Eat the Week: Kissing Triggers Food Allergies, Ronald McDonald Held Hostage, Coke’s Secret Recipe, and the Drunkest Countries in the World

1.  In the spirit of V-Day, a number of news organizations and allergy blogs cherry-picked this diddy from the press release archives of the College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: if you have a food allergy and you kiss someone who’s eaten the offending food, beware. To be safe, tell your partner to stay away from peanuts, tree nuts, or anything else you can’t ingest yourself prior to smooching. Make them brush their teeth (a good idea anyway) and always keep your allergy meds on hand.

2. This is the kind of feel-good kidnapping story that makes us swoon: a group of Finnish activists calling themselves the Food Liberation Army released a video with a gagged-and-bound fiberglass statue of Ronald McDonald, stolen from a Helsinki franchise, and a list of questions for the mega-chain. The group wanted to know about the company’s treatment of animals, the amount of waste they produce each year, and whether they employ illegal immigrants, among other things. The jig was up almost as soon as it began — the kidnappers were found and the statue seized by police, but there’s an upside — the statue recovered was actually a decoy, and the group executed the real statue via guillotine after they were released.

3. McDonald’s wasn’t the only global titan hacked this week — This American Life’s Ira Glass read the famously secret original Coca-Cola recipe on air this week. Apparently, it’s not as big a coup as it seems to be — a press release issued to announce the occasion says the recipe was actually published in a Georgia newspaper in 1979. A Coca-Cola spokesperson immediately denied the recipe’s authenticity, saying that the true original recipe is locked away in an Atlanta bank vault.

4. One thing you can bet wasn’t in that 125-year-old recipe is caramel coloring which, according to the Center of Science in the Public Interest, is carcinogenic. The ingredient contains ammonia and sulfites and serves the solely aesthetic purpose of darkening beverages. The group is petitioning the FDA to ban the ingredient.

5. According to Science Daily, being vegan may elevate the risk of heart disease. We call bullshit on the alarmist headline and interpretation of Duo Li’s research, recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The research — a formal review of existing articles and studies — shows something that vegans have known for a long time — it you’re going to cut animal products out of your diet, you need to be smart about how you eat. Specifically, you need to find ways to get omega-3s and B-12. Like olive oil, dark leafy greens, walnuts, and flax. Li even begins the paper’s abstract by explaining that omnivores have a “significantly higher cluster of cardiovascular risk factors.”

6. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and their whale friends scored a major victory this week when the government of Japan announced it would temporarily suspend its annual whale hunt. The hunt is intended to be for scientific purposes, but activists claim it’s a cover for obtaining whale meat for human consumption.

7. The World Health Organization has released statistics on global alcohol consumption — and the world’s drunkest country may surprise you. Ireland, Russia, and the United Kingdom all cracked the top 20, but the most soused nation — by nearly three liters per capita — is the Republic of Moldova. Moldavians consume 19.2 liters of pure alcohol per capita.

8. The James Beard Foundations announced its list of semifinalists this week. The big surprise? Not one New York restaurant was nominated in the “Outstanding Chef” category. Grub Street has the full list.

9. After analyzing 15,000-year-old “skull cups” found in a Somerset cave, British scientists have concluded that their ancestors probably used them in symbolic rituals and likely ate the dead. And yes, brains were probably eaten.

10. The World Banks warns that food prices — which have gone up 29% worldwide in the past year — are about to get higher, due to extreme weather in many food-producing regions. It’s no secret that food insecurity had something to do with the recent Egyptian uprisings and according to Reuters, it looks like the situation has gotten worse — the Egyptian people are encountering empty shelves and increased prices, partially due to people stocking up on goods for fear of food shortages.

Photo: DavidMartynHunt