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Eat Your Karats

Lynn Neuberg, whose family company, Easy Leaf Products, began selling edible metals to the retail consumer market last year, assures us that gold and silver may be rich but that in their pure form are flavorless, odorless and calorie-free.

At her home in the hills of Los Angeles overlooking the Getty Museum, Neuberg laid out samples of her wares in her spacious kitchen. There were precious metals dusted on cappuccinos and parfaits -- and a whole gold leaf floating on the top of a martini, like the most lovely gift wrap around the yummy goodness of chilled vodka. In fact, it was such a gilded martini that gave Neuberg the idea of selling edible gold to ordinary consumers. She and her husband were partying in Santa Fe a few years back and throwing gold leaf on their drinks at a bar (her husband inherited the family business that imports and sells gold leaf for architectural and artistic use). "Everybody was just amazed and wanted to try it," she recalls. Professional pastry chefs and confectioners have been using gold petals for some time, but Neuberg quickly realized that foodies might want the flecks and petals for home use.

When one nibbles a bit of Neuberg's edible gold or silver, for an instant, the mind preps the body for the shock of biting down on metal. But instead, the silver and gold melt in the mouth. It is not at all crunchy. It is undetectable on the palate. According to Neuberg, who imports her edible gold and silver from a facility in Italy, the metals are "totally inert."

Meaning?

"They just disappear."

Meaning?

"They just pass though."

We construct, briefly, a mental image. Just passing through? Gold passing through the stomach, intestine, colon, to its ultimate, final . . . output?

And so it, you know, would be visible?

"You'd have to eat a box," Neuberg says. "Boxes and boxes."

Nobody does that. That would be insane. So. Invisible? Neuberg wrinkles her nose, like enough already. "It's tested by the Italian FDA," she assures. "It's approved for use in Europe and for importation to America." She points to a seal in Italian on one of the boxes.

When The Washington Post calls the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, spokesman Michael Herndon puts us on the phone with an "FDA expert" in the food safety agency who says that edible gold and silver "has not gone through pre-market safety evaluations" at the FDA. "We haven't evaluated its use," the expert says. Why? Because no one has sought pre-market approval.


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