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Halloween has its share of frights. Most of them meant to scare tikes. Now, there is more to fear, but, unlike Halloween, these scary stories are meant to put fear in the hearts of adults. They involve your annual Thanksgiving feast.

It is no accident that ominous stories involving the foods commonly used in the Thanksgiving meal pop up about this time every year. Most of them are pure bunk. It is my hope that this will put your mind at ease and will enable you to prepare and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with confidence.

The latest scare is perpetrated by the Breast Cancer Fund. It involves the chemical BPA, which is commonly used in the linings of cans to protect food from contamination.

The organization tested canned gravy, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and the green beans used it the famous casserole that has become synonymous with this holiday and found BPA, which it claims has been linked to adverse health effects.

The Breast Cancer Fund has conveniently put out menus on its website to enable us to make everything from scratch. (While you’re there, how about a donation?)

I don’t know about you, but if I had to make everything from scratch, my family would be pretty hungry.

Put your mind at rest. The American Council of Science and Health, an organization made up of 350 physicians, scientists and policy advisers – experts in a wide variety of fields from around the country – says it’s bunk!

This organization has been around since 1978, and I have found that it is the very best resource when it comes to separating fact from fiction.

The Breast Cancer Fund, in an attempt to provide a scientific basis for its claim, put out a statement from Dr. William Goodson, a breast cancer surgeon from the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, who said, “We know from recent research that a BPA meal creates a spike of this estrogenic chemical in the blood.”

However, the ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross points out that the estrogenic activity of BPA is but a tiny fraction of that of the naturally occurring estrogens in the body in both genders. Ross says, “We are talking about a minuscule dose that would have no such effect.” So, go ahead. Open those cans and breathe easier.

Now, most cooks I know prefer fresh to canned, when practical. However, when you are preparing large holiday meals, it’s not always practical.

The BPA scare has been used effectively for years. It’s reached urban legend proportions and appears in many emails warning us about using plastic bottles and other food-packaging materials.

As a result, a recent survey by EcoFocus found that more that 37 percent of respondents were “extremely” or “very concerned” about using these items. Because of this scare, companies like Coca-Cola are expanding their glass-bottled products. Other companies have produced shatter-resistant glass bottles that are lined with guess what? BPA!

Again, ACSH points to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrating the safety of BPA, which has been around for decades.

The holidays are expensive enough. However, many folks will shell out a lot more money than they should for puny organic foods, believing them to be more nutritious and safer.

Presently, there is no definitive study that proves the former and, as for the latter claim, it simply is not true. Here’s an important point to keep in mind: When plants are untreated by synthetic pesticides, they produce their own carcinogens (chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rodents) to ward off pests. Research has shown that these carcinogens rank high in comparison to the possible hazards from the residues of synthetic pesticides or additives.

The ACSH has published a holiday menu with a list of both man-made and naturally occurring carcinogens contained in our food favorites: turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and apple pie, etc.

No human diet can be naturally free of these things. For example, the bread stuffing contains furfural, a rodent carcinogen. However, the ACSH points out that a person would have to eat 82,600 slices of bread every day for years to consume an amount that was found to be a dangerous to rats.

So, go ahead: Eat, drink and be merry and remember to give thanks for all of our blessings, one of which is that our food supply is the safest in the world.

 

 

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