The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has asked the Food and Drug Administration to ban all further use of Orange B, an artificial food coloring used in the casings of 200 million pounds of hot dogs a year.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner, Dr. Donald Kennedy, the Center noted that the manufacturer of the color, used almost exclusively in the Southeast, has voluntarily stopped production because Orange B contains a cancer-causing substance, betanapthylamine. Strange Co. notified FDA of its action on April 6, according to a company spokesman. CSPI criticizes FDA for not recalling all hot dogs from the market which contain the coloring and seizing all stocks of Orange B still in the hands of hot dog manufacturers.

In 1976 CSPI, a public interest organization which investigates problems related to food and nutrition, asked FDA to ban Orange B, but its petition was rejected as well as a subsequent petition to ban filed by Ralph Nader's Health Research Group.

According to William Bitten, Stange vice-president of regulatory compliance, the company has a 30 to 45 day supply on hand but it has no idea how much hot dog processors may have, possibly enough to last another six months.

One dollar will get you a whole encyclopedia - midget-sized, of course.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has published five brochures that answer the most often asked questions about the safety, nutrition and cost of food.

"Midget Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition" covers "What's Left to Eat: A Public Service for Bored Tongues," "The Food Biz or Whatever Happened to Farmer Brown?" "Chemical Cookery," "The Un-greasy Spoon" and "A Five Minute Course in Newtrition."

For an "Encyclopedia" set send $1 to CSPI, Dept. H, P.O. Box 3099, Washington, D.C. 20010.

The dean of food writers in America offered a suggestion at the annual Food Marketing Institute convention in Dallas recently that some members of the Institute might not like.

James Beard told an audiencce of fellow food writers: "We should review supermarkets the way we review restaurants."

If Beard were reviewing them, the delicounters of many supermarkets would not fare too well. He thinks most of the potato salads they sell are inedible. The bread is often stale and the roast beef is sliced. "I'm against sliced roast beef," he said, because it dries out. He doesn't think much of the other sliced cold meats he's encountered, either. "You might just as well have a piece of chewed string." On the other hand, some of the coleslaws haven't been bad. "It's very hard to ruin them," he said.

Beard doesn't think quick foods in supermarkets have to be encased in plastic wrap or frozen and already prepared. "There are plenty of meals picked up in the supermarket that could be cooked in 45 minutes to an hour: asparagus, fish, fruit and cheese - it all can be done perfectly in 45 minutes. The same thing with many cuts of meat: flank steak, chopped meat plus one or two vegetables and untold numbers of pastas."

But if you really want carry-out service, the cook-teacher-writer-critic thinks you ought to consider the alternative, which is available, he says, in New York and California. "A growing number of people who are serious cooks are opening take-out shops. They have frozen dishes that are quite good and can be reheated. They have some hot dishes, too. That and a loaf of French bread makes sense."

Maryland's annual leaflet for where to "Pick Your Own Fruits and Vegetables" has been joined by two other useful consumer brochures: "Roadside Markets in Maryland" and "Facts About Buying Meat."

The meat leaflet is a list of places which offer a variety of services to the public: from selling livestock directly and custom-slaughtering to curing meats, processing, packaging and freezing them.

The extensive list of roadside markets differ from the pick-your-own brochure because it includes roadside markets that offer already picked produce. Some of the places are listed in both brochures.

Compiled by Harold Hoecker at the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland, the brochures are available at most public libraries in Maryland and from county extension offices.

And what else is new at the University of Maryland?

The "Great American Snack," or something the inventors of a sweet potato chip hope their creation will become.

Two researchers are perfecting a potato chip made from sweet potatoes which "is more nutritious than white potato chips," and "could reverse the current decline in the consumption of sweet potatoes," or so the press release says.

If your obstetrician hasn't been explicit about your diet during pregnancy, "As You Eat, So Your Baby Grows" is a safe alternative. It might even be better since most physicians are not renowned for the nutrition information they impart.

It isn't that the author, Nikki Goldbeck, has special information, not available elsewhere; it's just that she has compiled it in one handy little 16-page booklet.

It tells you what to eat and why; the sources of important vitamins and minerals. What may be even more important, the book tells you what not to eat and why it is important to stay away from drugs of any kind, unless they are prescribed by your doctor.

Copies are available for $1.35 each from: Ceres Press, Old Witch Tree Road, Woodstock, N.Y. 12498.

The annual Vegetarian Society picnic will be held at Rock Creek park (picnic area 10A-E) Sunday, June 4 at 4 p.m. The event is open to the public: the charge - one vegetarian dish to serve four along with the recipe on a 3 by 5 card, plus enough cups, plates, napkins and utensil to serve all the members in one's party.

For more information call Larry Miller, mornings at 927-4479 or Jane Peters, afternoons at 332-9110.