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An 11-year-old ate a burger. It was fatal for him, but OK according to the FDA.

It's a four-letter practice the FDA lets food companies get away with.

An 11-year-old ate a burger. It was fatal for him, but OK according to the FDA.

What is the Food and Drug Administration meant to do? According to them:


But there's a four-letter acronym that allows food companies to pretty much add what they want to foods without FDA interference. It's known as "GRAS" and refers to food additives "generally regarded as safe."

Horrifyingly, this practice has allegedly led to at least one death — that of 11-year-old Miles Bengco, whose story is featured after the video below. He thought he was eating just a burger, but his family didn't know it had an additive related to mold in it, something they otherwise would have avoided given his pre-existing respiratory problems.

But first, here's how the GRAS loophole works:

From the Center for Public Integrity's shocking report about food additives and the FDA:

One out of six ain't bad?

Five years ago, the Government Accountability Office said in a 70-page report about food additives that the "FDA's oversight process does not help ensure the safety of all new" food ingredients. The report criticized the fact that companies can deem new added ingredients to be "generally recognized as safe" without even telling the FDA, leaving the agency in the dark about many ingredients that end up in foods and beverages.

The GAO recommended that the FDA take six actions to improve federal oversight of the GRAS system. Five years later, the agency has acted on just one of them.



Now about Miles Bengco's death:

Photo courtesy of the family of Miles Bengco.

He was just eating a burger with his family. What went wrong?

Here's the lawsuit's clear description of what happened to Miles (click to enlarge):

Because of the loophole that allows companies to fast-track their products to market without FDA approval of additives that are "generally recognized as safe" (which can sometimes simply mean no one has ever proven or tried to prove they weren't), Quorn Foods processed and sold burgers with mycoprotein (a mold derived from fungi). While most people can eat mycoprotein and be fine, people with pre-existing conditions like asthma won't tolerate it well. Predictably, the company is denying responsibility.

So, who should have been looking out for Miles Bengco? Didn't we all assume the FDA would be?

Much like with the lupin mentioned in the video — that's potentially dangerous to those with peanut allergies — it's way better for the FDA to have a chance to intervene and require clear labeling.

And who will be next to suffer the consequences?

So ... how do we change this?

Recently, a group of organizations that fight on behalf of consumers submitted an official comment to the FDA that implores them to fix the GRAS loophole. Will the FDA listen? It's a long shot, admittedly.

If only there was evidence that people bombarding governmental agencies to change something works!

Oh, wait ... remember that time John Oliver got loads of people to bug the FCC until they protected Net Neutrality? We could try to do the same thing by tweeting and writing the FDA!

If we all wanted to, we could tweet the FDA here or write them letters at this address about the importance of knowing what's in our foods. We could even tweet or retweet something like:

And THEN, we could all share this and urge our friends to do the same.

Wouldn't that be a better way for this story to end? ;)

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.