". . . USDA is going to permit the sale of that infamous product known variously as mechanically deboned meat or tissue from ground bone." That's how Assistant Agriculture Secretary Carol Foreman announced the department's decision recently.
Foreman, once the executive director of Consumer Federation of America, made the announcement before an audience made up for the most part of her former consumer activist colleagues. She knew many of them would not be pleased with the decision because they had fought against the use of mechanically deboned meat (MDM) in the courts.
USDA set up a special panel to answer the safety questions regarding the substance, a mixture of meat scraps and ground-up bone.
According to Foreman, who was speaking at the Community Nutrition Institute seminar: "After diligent study, USDA and FDA scientists can find no evidence that the meat food product (its new name) which is mechanically separated from bone is harmful to health. It has, in other words, passed the health test."
Foreman said products containing MFP would be labeled "in letters at least half as large as the name of the product - 'with a mechanically processed beef product: contains up to .06 powdered bone."
Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Donald Kennedy told the same audience that an important milestone in the history of food had recently passed unnoticed. According to Kennedy, it "marks our consuming more processed foods than fresh agricultural products. The trend signified by that point is clearly continuing." Kennedy said, "and is probably irreversible. I bring it up to say that we really don't have an adequate handle on the nutritional impact of that change, particularly since we do not know with any precision what proportion of the population subsists on little more than highly processed foods."
According to the commissioner, nutritionists do not know "the health effects of lifetime deficits of some of the trace elements such as molybdenum, manganese, chromium, selenium and silicon." Before the American diet was made up of so much processed food, this ignorance made no difference. "People ate such a variety of fresh foods that it could safely be assumed that they were ingesting sufficient amounts of trace elements."
The ultimate in processed foods was brought up on a speech given at the seminar by Federal Trade Commission lawyer Tracy Westen.
Westen, deputy director of the commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, revealed that Pringles have taste on only one side.
He explained that the processing removes "all the good old potato chip flavor. So the manufacturer has to reinject potato chip 'taste' in the neatly stackable modern versions by using chemical additives.
"But there's one thing they didn't tell you in the ads," Westen said. "Pringles only taste like potato chips on one side!
"Consumers can now taste food technology in action. The top of the 'chip' reveals the taste of modern food processing - nothing! The bottom reveals the zesty, old-fashioned taste of potato chips that only the best chemical additives can supply."
The May/June issue of Vegetarian Times contain a list of 350 restaurants in this country and in Canada that serve vegetarian dishes. Each listing gives the name, address, sometimes a telephone number and some descriptive information.
You don't have to buy the magazine to get the list. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Box 4333, Washington, D.C 20012 for a copy.
The 1979 National Pineapple Cooking Classic is ready to receive entries. Recipes will be accepted in four categories: main dishes, salads, breads and desserts.
Finals of the contest will be held next April in Honolulu. Grand prize is $25,000.
Entry blanks and contest rules will be available in grocery stores or can be obtained from: National Pineapple Cooking Classic, 747 Front St., San Francisco, Calif. 94111.
Superoni, a new high-protein pasta product from Prince Macaroni, has made its Washington debut - in a 12 ounce package.
Traditionally pasta is sold in 8-or 16-ounce packages, but according to the firm handling publicity for the product, the company decided on a 12-ounce package because "surveys had shown people who cook up a full 16-ounce package waste a lot of spaghetti."
Decreasing the size of a package is also known as "packaging to price." So on a pound-for-pound basis Superoni, at 59 cents for 12 ounces, costs 20 cents more per pound than regular pasta.
In addition to durum wheat - the traditional ingredient in the best pastas - this product contains enriched soy, wheat gluten, corn germ and the amino acid. lysine. These ingredients improve the quality of the pasta's protein. In addition they keep it from getting soft and soggy.
Unlike other pastas, which must be drained of all water as soon as they are cooked, Superoni holds its al dente quality for as long as 10 to 15 minutes after it has finished cooking.
Calorie count of the new pasta is similar to regular pasta. Fat content is 2.5 percent instead of 1.2 percent for the traditional pasta.