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Suspect Intentionally Poisoning Food in South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe residents have been on alert for the past week thanks to some intentional food poisoning incidents at food establishments across the city.

This began last week when a man was caught on security footage pouring an unknown substance into the food self-service counter at a local Raley’s grocery store before fleeing the scene on foot. Police released the below photo of the man after reviewing the security footage.


Photo: News Observer

While this was the first reported incident of intentional food contamination, South Lake Tahoe police believe that the man caught on footage could be linked to three similar incidents at the same Raley’s that began a couple of weeks ago.

The poisonings escalated this past Sunday when a twelve-year-old boy was hospitalized after eating contaminated food at a Baja Fresh restaurant in the area. Employees reported seeing a man putting an unknown substance on the salsa bar in the restaurant the day before, and customers reported a bleach-like odor from the salsa bar that day.

Since then, it’s been confirmed that both the Baja Fresh and Raley’s self-serve food stations had been contaminated multiple times prior to police getting involved in both locations.

The child has since been treated and released from the hospital, but investigators still haven’t been able to identify the substance used in all of the intentional poisonings. Local authorities and the FBI are investigating and analyzing footage and videos from Baja Fresh on top of the footage and photos from Raley’s.

This isn’t the first time food poisoning has been used as a direct attack on people. In 1984, an Oregon cult used similar tactics at a pizza restaurant’s salad bar in attempts to rig a local election by making the public too sick to vote against them. In that attack, 751 people reported becoming ill.

We’re hoping that this series of attacks in South Lake Tahoe does not get up to that level.

(UPDATE: A man has been arrested in connection with the food poisonings at Raley’s. It’s yet unknown if he was responsible for the poisoning at Baja Fresh and what the contaminant was. More updates to come from the Sacramento Bee.)

(UPDATE 2: KCRA news has confirmed that lab test results indicated the contaminant used in both cases was bleach. Harry Dally is now being charged for both poisonings).

#foodbeast Feel Good FOODBEAST Hit-Or-Miss News Restaurants Technology What's New

We Thought This Vegan Burger Was Actually Beef

I’m absolutely obsessed with seeing what’s going on with the future of food. Whether it be new food technologies or products, when something incredibly amazing related to food comes out, I want to experience it firsthand.

So, when Impossible Foods announced that it’s BLEEDING, PLANT-BASED “Impossible Burger” was going to be sold at Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to go see it being made and taste it.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Impossible Burger, its been going viral for the past year. The burger patty was developed by Impossible Foods – a food tech, Silicon Valley firm that aimed to create a plant-based patty that replicated meat perfectly.

This included the absolute juiciness, browning when cooked, and the flavor of meat – all of which many other companies failed to do with their own vegan burgers.


After countless hours of research, CEO Dr. Patrick Brown and his team found the ingredients they needed, including heme (a protein responsible for most of the flavor and the juiciness of the patty), potato starch, wheat, and coconut oil.

Impossible Foods wanted to make this patty not as just another vegan burger, but as a real replacement for ground beef. In the near future, the water, greenhouse gas emissions, and land costs of beef and other meats will likely make them unsustainable to produce, and we could potentially not be able to eat them since nobody could raise livestock anymore. This burger is meant to be the alternative we eat in that future.

After revealing their Impossible Burger patty and getting rave reviews (including a massive acquisition offer from Google), they started getting picked up by various high-profile restaurants. David Chang of Momofuku Nishi launched his viral version of the burger over summer. Last month, it was announced that three California restaurants would also sell their own versions of the burger – Cockscomb and Jardiniere in San Francisco, and Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles.

With plant-based aficionado Tal Ronnen at the helm, Crossroads has become one of the most popular plant-based restaurants in Los Angeles. He and executive chef Scot Jones teamed up to create an Impossible Burger that is aimed to be reminiscent of “SoCal fast food” (basically, In N Out).


To do this, they griddle the burger and serve it on a toasted In-N-Out-style bun with a coconut-based version of American cheese (from Follow Your Heart), lettuce, tomato, white onion, and a ketchup-vegenaise-pickle sauce similar to the special sauce from In-N-Out. The whole thing comes with truffle French fries dusted with vegan Parmesan cheese (also from Follow Your Heart).

With the goal of trying this burger in mind, I got Foodbeasts Jazz and Grant to join my trek to Crossroads to check this burger out.

When we tried the burger, we were completely amazed:

Grant: “It’s the perfect cheeseburger for a lactose-intolerant Foodbeast.”

Jazz: “I’m taking my vegan friends this weekend to show them what they’re missing in the burger world.”

Me: “Wow. Just wow. That tastes exactly like a burger.”


The texture was exactly like that of a fast food burger patty, and the flavor was spot-on to that of In-N-Out, from sauce to bun. Even the cheese was melted just like on a regular fast food burger (although it was admittedly a bit strong in flavor).

While the experience of initially eating the burger was nearly perfect to that of a regular burger, what really had me amazed was the aftertaste. My mouth felt like I had just eaten a burger – and yet I knew I wasn’t going to get that greasy feeling that you normally get when you’re done eating a burger.

Chef Tal explained that the legume-based heme was responsible for the aftertaste sensation I was getting, and what made the experience so real. From that whole experience, I could definitely see this burger replacing beef in a future where cattle are unsustainable to grow anymore.

Grant, Jazz, and myself were, for lack of a better word, mind-blown as we left Crossroads after tasting their Impossible Burger. On the drive back, we all had the same thought in mind: We gotta go back soon.

Health News Packaged Food Products What's New

This Holiday Pie Granola is Delicious And Tackles Food Waste Issues

With the holiday season now beginning, all of the timely dessert-themed products are taking the market by storm. One product line, however, stands out from the rest.

Los Angeles-based startup Pulp Pantry has brought the holiday pie flavors into granola, with flavors like Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie available to taste.


What’s special about the granola from Pulp Pantry is that they are entirely plant-based and GRAIN FREE.

Instead of using traditional oats to make these festive granolas, CEO Kaitlin Mogentale sources pulps from LA-based juiceries like Suja to create her products. Almond pulp, apple pulp, and carrot pulp that would otherwise be discarded is converted into delicious, clean snacks like these granolas that are high in both fiber and protein.

Using pulps to create these products give Pulp Pantry an exciting and innovative angle in the granola world, as it provides huge flavor coupled with incredible nutrition. On top of that, it tackles the growing issue of food waste in this country – where 60 million tons of produce are tossed as food waste each year.

Pulp Pantry addresses this issue with the granolas, veggie crackers, and baking mixes that they sell online and in stores.

While the Apple Pie Granola is an original product, Pumpkin Pie is a new flavor created just in time for the holiday season.

You can head online to get these exciting, festive granolas, and also where the Pumpkin Pie flavor is sold exclusively. Pulp Pantry’s original flavors of granola can also be found across several stores in the Los Angeles area:

  • Erewhon
  • Renew Juicery
  • Livestyle Juice Bar
  • Grow DTLA
  • Grassroots Natural Market

We absolutely recommend heading to one of these stores (or online) to grab these granolas as a perfect holiday party snack or as a way to give your breakfast a holiday-themed, food-conscious twist!

Health Hit-Or-Miss Products Technology What's New

This ‘Clean Meat’ Company Wants YOU to Help It Save Meat For the Planet

You probably clicked on this article because you had no idea what is meant by the term “clean meat.” It’s something you should definitely get to know, because it is spreading and trying to go global right now.

Before we explain how that’s happening, let’s talk about what exactly clean meat is. It has nothing to do with how animals are raised, antibiotic usage in livestock, the physical contamination of meat by feces or pathogens, or any of the common issues from raising animals.

Clean meat doesn’t even come from butchering live stock. Simply put, it’s lab-grown meat.


Photo: Newsweek

By growing meat from stem cells in culture, companies like Memphis Meats are able to produce meat that doesn’t factor in the environmental, social, or labor costs of growing, raising, and slaughtering livestock – hence, the “clean” terminology that they use to describe their cultured meat.

The company has estimated that they can use 90 percent less water and land while producing 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions by raising cultured meat rather than actual livestock – making clean, cultured meat products much better for the environment and reducing the need to raise more livestock.

Environmentally, it’s become clear that the consumption of meat – especially at the levels that it’s consumed at in America – will have significant impacts and is not sustainable for the future of food. In that future where cattle and other animals are difficult to raise because the environmental supply is gone, companies like Memphis Meats aim to deliver meat to a world that isn’t able to raise it anymore.

Additionally, the company has been able to show that their meat isn’t just more environmentally-friendly – it’s also safer and healthier. Cultured meat means that less pathogens can get into the meat supply and contaminate it – leading to less food-borne illnesses.

Memphis Meats has spent a while researching to develop their meat, and revealed their first clean meat product – a meatball – to the world earlier this year. While it will take some time to scale up and have the meatballs ready to sell to the world, everyone was very excited to see the meatball’s success.


Photo: Memphis Meats

Now, Memphis Meats wants to get their products and vision for clean meat spread to the rest of the world. By slanging their meat globally, they can develop worldwide scales of beef or other meats without ever having to kill a single animal.

To reach this goal, Memphis Meats recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to help make this possible – and with a month left to go, they’re already almost halfway to their goal.

If this article has made you interested at all in clean meat, or has left you wanting to taste it, then head on over and help Memphis Meats out. What they’re doing is revolutionary, tasty, and could potentially save meat for the planet.


(UPDATE: Looks like Memphis Meats isn’t just making meatballs anymore – check out this new footage of a slice of cultured beef fajitas! The footage was just released by Techcrunch.)

Culture Health Hit-Or-Miss

Here’s What Those Labels on Your Food Products Really Mean

The food industry absolutely loves to throw a ton of healthy buzzwords onto food labels. Most food products these days bombard consumers with a variety of words like “clean label,” “non-GMO,” “gluten-free,” “organic,” and several more that consumers want to see on food labels.

These all sound great to consumers, because to consumers, all of these words make the foods that carry them sound healthy. However, a lot of people don’t know what all of these words mean, as has been proven by Jimmy Kimmel on numerous occassions.

As a food scientist, it’s my job to know what these words mean so I know if companies I work for meet the label requirements. My aim is to use what I’ve learned to clarify to consumers, so that the next time you go grocery shopping, you have an idea of what actually goes into the meanings for all of these words.




Photo: The Plate

Organic is definitely one of the most complex labels out there. Food products that have varying percentages of organic ingredients are allowed to have different labels or say different things on their product packages, such as “Made with Organic Ingredients” or “100% Organic.” While consumers think that organic is great, a lot of people don’t understand what it means for something to be certified organic.

Organic labeling itself began in 1993, and was presented under a strict set of requirements. Organically grown food had to be free of specific chemicals that were established by the law (and the list continues to be modified even today), and the land it was grown on had to be free of these same chemicals for at least three years prior to growth. A whole host of other agricultural and farming practices are required for organic certification to be reached.

One of the biggest things to understand about organic that most people don’t, however, is that all organic products are also non-GMO by legal definition. So, if you purchase organic products, you don’t have to worry if GMOs exist in those products too, since they legally can’t be in there.




Photo: Food Scape Finds

While the federal government is just starting to get on board with non-GMO labeling, independent programs like the non-GMO project are sweeping across the nation. Having one of these verifications of non-GMO is just as important to consumers as the US requiring labeling of products containing GMOs will be.

While the US requirements are pretty simple to understand, the requirements for some of the independent verifiers are a little more tricky. The Non-GMO Project’s standards are broad, covering everything from traceability to the feed that livestock consume. It’s a big reason as to why their label is so coveted by a lot of food producers – as is the claim of non-GMO.

To be non-GMO requires the absence of any genetically engineered food ingredients or organisms in the production or growth of any product (Genetically modified is too loose of a word, since all living things’ genes are naturally modified over time). While there is no change in the actual nutritional content or toxicological risk of the food between GMO and non-GMO, ethics becomes the big question when choosing non-GMO products over GMO. There are good usages of GMOs, like in the reduction of food waste or scaling natural ingredients that couldn’t be grown in large amounts on their own. There are also bad uses, like we all saw with Monsanto in Food, Inc. Having the traceability to understand exactly what GMOs are in your product is key to understanding those ethics, though that could be a whole week of articles on its own.




Photo: Men’s Journal

Gluten-Free is pretty straightforward: No gluten can be found in the product (Technically, less than 20 ppm is okay). Any food not containing wheat, rye, barley, or any of their hybrids can also be labeled as gluten free.

For those unclear on what gluten is, it’s a protein network developed inside of wheat, rye, and barley when mixed with water. Two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, contribute to the development of gluten and give bread its stretchiness a – while being painful for those with Celiac disease.


Whole Grain


Photo: Don’t Panic Mom

Various label claims for whole grain like the amount in a food or “100% whole grain” are permitted by the FDA. They’ve also required that for whole grain to be on the label, the entire grain (or matching compositions of a whole grain) must be in the product.

These whole grains include cereal grains like amaranth, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, millet, wheat, and corn.


No Added Sugars


Photo: Kev’s Snack Reviews

This is a trickier definition that was just defined recently by the FDA. With the new nutrition labels coming out requiring added sugars to be labeled, the FDA had to explain what added sugars are. In their words, added sugars are those added in during processing that are in excess of what could be found in natural ingredients added (ie. fruit juices).

No Added Sugars does NOT mean sugar-free, however. Sugars can still exist if it’s naturally in an added food ingredient (ie. fruit juice or milk), or comes from the breakdown of starches in food (by heat, fermentation, or grain sprouting). Keep that in mind as you shop for products and look at food labels.




Photo: One Green Planet

All-natural used to be one of the most popular claims on food labels, but has a taken a hit recently. That’s because people now understand that there is no real definition of natural from the FDA as of right now, and all-natural basically means all of the ingredients come from nature. While that includes things like strawberries and wheat, it also includes not-so-appealing natural ingredients like carmine (crushed bug extract used as a food coloring) or castoreum (a natural vanilla flavor derived from beaver secretions).

The good news is that the FDA is currently attempting to define “natural,” so hopefully it can be used meaningfully on food labels again in the near future.


Clean Label


Photo: Ingredients Network

Much like “all-natural” above, there is no official legal definition for “clean label” food products, either. The FDA hasn’t begun to consider that definition yet, but it is a topic of hot debate. Nobody is quite clear on what the definition is, but some key ideals have surfaced. These include using simple, real ingredients, as well as the removal of a large number of additives – often nicknamed as the “No-No” List.


Several other healthy buzzwords are out there that you can find, but these are some of the more key – or controversial – buzzwords found on several food products. Hopefully, the explanations provided on what these mean gives you a better understanding of what they mean – and makes you look harder the next time you go shopping.

Hacks Hit-Or-Miss Recipes

The Ultimate Guide to Juicy Thanksgiving Turkeys

We’ve all experienced the struggle of cooking turkey on Thanksgiving. The bird dries out so easily in the oven, that more often than not, you’re stuck eating tough, dry turkey that is hard to get down. However, there are a lot of different ways to help your turkey become more moist when it’s ready to serve. Follow a few of these simple tips and tricks below, and everyone will be salivating over how juicy and tender your turkey is this Thanksgiving.


Brine Your Turkey


Photo: Eugene Kim on Flickr.

Making a brine is incredibly easy and can be flavored to your liking. By immersing the turkey in a marinated, salty liquid for a couple of days in the fridge, you’re adding tons of flavor and drawing more water into the turkey, making it juicier from the start of the cooking process.

There’s two common ways to make brine: Either just add your ingredients straight into cold water and add the turkey in, or bring the water with ingredients up to a boil and pour into a container of ice to keep anything from cooking and changing the flavor before adding the turkey into the icy brine.

Some recommendations for the brine include peppercorns, bay leaves, and citrus, which helps break down some of the tissue in your turkey to make it more tender.

Pro Tip: Take the turkey out of the fridge (but still in the brine) an hour before you’re ready to roast to bring the turkey to room temperature and ensure even cooking.


Stuff It With Veggies (Or Fruit!) 

Photo: Brian Teuth on Flickr

Adding onions, more citrus, and herbs into the cavity adds moisture from the produce, allowing the bird to steam from the inside out. This not only helps keep the bird juicy and moist, but also adds flavor from the produce inside.

Pro Tip: After roasting, remove the produce from inside the turkey, and save it to infuse into your gravy.


Put Some Veggies Underneath As Well

Photo: Mike Fleming on Flickr

Adding a load of chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, etc. underneath the turkey keeps the bottom from burning or cooking unevenly. This “trivet”, as it’s called, protects the turkey from the direct heat of your roasting tray and contributes a lot of flavor to your gravy as well!

Pro Tip: To add an extra level of steam, also pour a small amount of water into the roasting tray.


Covering With Foil Is Key

Tenting your turkey with a cover of aluminum foil prevents too much water/steam from escaping the turkey and evaporating. The foil locks in the moisture and helps keep the turkey incredibly tender.

Pro Tip: Make sure the foil doesn’t touch the turkey, and remove two-thirds of the way through cooking so that the skin on top can brown.


Start Your Bird UPSIDE DOWN

This sounds crazy, but SORTEDfood did it a couple of years ago, and it worked really well in keeping the most critical part of the turkey dry: the breast. Turkey breast often dries out much easier than the rest of the turkey. By roasting it upside down, the juices from the turkey go straight to the breast, keeping the most commonly eaten part of the bird extremely tender.

Pro Tip: Make sure to turn the turkey back over a little more than halfway through so that the skin on top can still brown.


Put Some Bacon On It

Gordon Ramsay did this in an attempt to also make the turkey breast more tender. Instead of using the turkey’s juices, he resorted to lining the top of the bird with strips of bacon. The fat renders down into the turkey, keep it juicy while adding a ton of great flavor!

Pro Tip: Remove the bacon before the turkey is done roasting and either add to your gravy or save for yourself to eat.


Baste Your Bird

Photo: Joy on Flickr.

This is the most annoying chore to have while roasting the turkey, but is one of the most critical. Adding moisture back into the turkey is necessary as it cooks in the oven. Without basting, it will dry out, so make sure to baste every 30 minutes or so while you’re trying to brown the turkey skin!

Pro Tip: Customize your basting liquid to match what’s in your turkey! Some cool examples are a mix of butter/maple syrup, a mix of lemonade/butter, or even apple juice/cider!


Know Your Temperatures

One of the biggest reasons that turkey is overcooked and/or dry during Thanksgiving is that temperature isn’t monitored. As you baste the turkey and it nears the end of your estimated cooking time (which varies by weight), measure the temperature of your turkey. The best spot to do this is between the leg and the breast, as that part takes the longest to come up to temperature. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees F, it’s ready to come out of the oven and rest!

Pro Tip: Check out the USDA’s guide on roasting turkeys for an estimation of how long to cook yours based on how big it is.

Let The Turkey Rest!


Photo: The Broke College Kid – Recipes I’m Too Broke to Make

Please, whatever you do, do NOT slice into your turkey the instant it comes out of the oven. That just lets all of the juice inside of the turkey run out and dries it out almost immediately. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes prior to carving to let the juices rest and stay with the meat, instead of flowing out right away.

Pro Tip: Gordon Ramsay would tell you to let the bird rest for as long as it’s cooked – and that’s fine, as long as you cover it with foil and cloth towels to keep it warm and serve with a hot gravy to bring the turkey up to temperature on your guests’ plates.


Follow one, two, or all of these tips, and you’ll have a much more tender bird that will impress all of your guests and yourself! Have a great, dry turkey-free Thanksgiving!

Celebrity Grub Hit-Or-Miss Restaurants What's New

These 4 Potential White House Chefs Might Be Making These Indulgent Dishes for President Trump

This past week, a lot of the discussion surrounding president-elect Donald Trump has focused on who he would be selecting to different positions in his cabinet and throughout the White House.

Of course, one of the positions that has to be filled is that of the White House chef. While no official list has turned up, The Washingtonian compiled a list of potential candidates for the position. This lineup includes current White House Chef Cristeta Comerford, BLT Prime’s David Burke (located in the Trump Hotel International in DC), former Trump personal chef Joe Isidori, and Trump Tower’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

President-elect Trump hasn’t been shy about his diet preferences, which include fast food, overcooked steak, and milkshakes. Considering all of these, we took a look at some similar dishes that these potential White House chef candidates have created – and could possibly be served in the White House soon.


Cristeta Comerford’s Sweet Potato Pie


Photo: i1OS

Current White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford has been cooking for Presidents for the last decade, and her sweet potato pie is a constant favorite. This classic American dessert is tweaked with a honey meringue topping and both star anise and creme fraiche in the filling. Sweet potato pie is a comforting, rich dessert that fits in perfectly with Donald Trump’s indulgent food preferences.


Joe Isidori’s Pizza Burger


Photo: am New York

Since his days as Trump’s personal chef, Joe Isidori has opened his own place – Black Tap – in New York City. Known for straight-up indulgent comfort food and craft beer, this burger is definitely one of the most indulgent to be served there. Topped with mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, and tomato sauce, this is the perfect mashup of both pizza and burger. Considering the Donald’s love for fast food (and his claim that he actually eats the toppings straight off of pizza and leaves the crust) – this could be the perfect sandwich for him to munch on before a press conference.

Chef Isidori is also known for creating ridiculous shakes, and as White House Chef, we could see Donald Trump (who is a huge fan of milkshakes) slurping down some of his massive creations, perhaps alongside this burger.


David Burke’s Salt-Aged Porterhouse


Photo: The Washingtonian 

BLT Prime is just a couple of months old, but the steak lineup they have their is extraordinary. David Burke has brought a whole host of dry-aged, salt-aged, and wet-aged steaks to the restaurant, topping them all with rendered beef fat for extra flavor. The porterhouse is one of the most impressive cuts on the menu – aged for 45 days and weighing in at over 2 pounds – plenty for 2 people. This is something that has the flavor line-up and appeal to be present at a White House State Dinner, and is definitely something President-elect Trump would enjoy – though it would be well-done steak, not medium rare like in the photo above.


Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s 28-Day Aged Ribeye


Photo: Nougatine

Chef Vongerichten has been involved with the Trumps for a long time, even catering Donald and Melania’s wedding back in 2005.  He would bring three Michelin-star levels of indulgence to the White House, which could include this impressive ribeye steak from Nougatine, one of Chef Vongerichten’s restaurants in Trump Tower. Served with crispy potatoes and herbs, this is one of the ultimate “meat-and-potato” dishes out there that Trump would definitely enjoy.


All of the four White House Chef candidates would create over-the-top indulgence and deliciousness on a regular basis for the President-elect. It would definitely be a welcome luxury after all of the fast food he prefers to consume on the road. Regardless of who President Trump picks to be his next White House chef, we’re confident that his dietary habits won’t change in the White House.

Hit-Or-Miss News Packaged Food What's New

Spoon University and Chef’d Are Making Student Meal Kits

Ramen noodles and Hot Pockets may need to take a back seat for a while.

Spoon University, the food journalism site for students, announced a couple of days ago that it is teaming up with Chef’d to create college student meal kits.


Photo: Spoon University

Starting next year, these meal kits will be shipped out to students looking to cook but lacking the time to go grocery shopping. They will contain everything from ingredients for recipes (enough for 4 meals), sets of 6 grab-and-go meal products, 10-packs of snacks or beverages, or even care package-themed meal kits.


Photo: Chef’d

College students who spend all of their time studying will find these a relief from the fast food and more processed meals that they’re used to consuming. These meal kits are supplied with great, tasty products that students can use not only to enjoy eating, but to get back in the kitchen as well.

For now, Spoon University is offering a sign-up sweepstakes promotion. Those who sign up to learn when the meal kits are ready to go will be entered in a snacks care package giveaway!

Make sure to sign up for the sweepstakes and get ready to enjoy these creative, college-oriented new meal kits.