Hot Pockets are stuffed with secrets

I was shocked when I read on CNN.com that Hot Pockets were on a national recall for contaminated beef. So shocked that I threw my Lean Pockets in the freezer.

I wasn’t shocked because it’s unheard of, but because Hot Pockets, among other frozen treats, are a staple in the common diet of college students. Even if people don’t like to admit it, college students are consumers of processed food.

I always assumed that because something was sealed, packaged and sold as a meal, it was edible. Needless to say, I learned my lesson. Situations like the Hot Pocket recall should make us all more skeptical about what we’re putting in our bodies.

Ramen Noodles are also a perfect example. Did you know that when you eat them, they simply stay in your stomach and don’t break down? Preservatives are put in foods to give them a longer shelf life, but their shelf life extends even after we eat them. Some of the chemicals found in our processed foods are so dangerous, they are illegal in other countries.

Japan, Singapore and other foreign countries made it against the law to sell Mountain Dew. A chemical used in all Mountain Dew products is also used to prevent carpets from catching on fire. Stomach linings everywhere are screaming in agony.

I’ll admit that I’m not the first one to get my groceries at Whole Foods. My paycheck doesn’t allow for something like that, but I am still shocked to see these foods are able to pass inspection from the Food and Drug Administration.

“The Jungle,” by Upton Sinclair, was a mudslinging book on how incredly low standards America had on meat packaging during the Industrial Revolution. People were sold meat infected with disease, meat picked up from the floor and meat contaminated by other lovely things like rat droppings and bugs.

It would make any American cringe, which is why the book inspired an updated policy on meat inspection. Because of “The Jungle,” the FDA called for rigorous inspections on meat.

I would think that this revolution in how we choose our food would apply to commonly purchased products now, but it seems that this really isn’t the case. How are we still letting contaminated meat pass through our systems? Do we simply remedy this by making these products cheap?

This goes far beyond the issue of obesity. The subject of why we’re fat has been discussed to the point of exhaustion. What I’m specifically referring to is the chemical content of our food – the reason words like brain cancer resonate with us when we drink a diet soda or put artificial sweeteners in our gas station coffee.

We are the ones who put the forks, or Hot Pockets, in our mouths. We are responsible for what we put in our bodies. However, there are some responsibilities that go beyond us.

Food companies, as well as the FDA, should give fair warning to consumers as to what exactly is in these products. Or, even better, they could not put dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals in easily accessible, cheap food.

 

Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor