Thinly sliced: Why did FDA keep quiet about another E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce?

This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.

Slippery when wet. Olive oil companies are asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create an official definition for the stuff, as well as for terms like “virgin,” “extra virgin,” and “refined.” Why? Because too many Americans think they’re buying EVOO, but are actually cooking with low-quality, old, or rancid oils according to a petition filed yesterday. These definitions, known as standards of identity, are at the foundation of almost all labeling lawsuits. Politico reports it is about “restoring consumer trust.”

Aw, nuts. Cashew-based dairy analogs may not be the ethical choice they’re marketed as. Quartz delves into how cashews are processed—through forced manual labor in places like India, Vietnam, and Côte d’Ivoire. The supply chain is fraught with labor abuse and it seems to be getting worse as demand grows steadily. Americans are the second-highest consumers of cashews, incidentally, to be outdone only by India.

Poison pen. There was another national outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce this summer, sickening consumers in a dozen states. Didn’t hear about it? That’s because FDA and CDC sat on the information until Halloween, angering food safety advocates and calling the agencies’ credibility into question. In a largely unprecedented move, industry publication Food Safety News has decided to post a statement on all its related stories for the next six weeks: “At this time, the credibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not to be trusted. Both agencies have shown a reckless disregard for the public’s right to know, and their reliability going forward remains suspect.”

The burger immortal. The last McDonald’s cheeseburger sold in Iceland in 2009 is still standing—and currently being live streamed by 400,000 people daily. “I had heard that McDonald’s never decompose so I just wanted to see if it was true or not,” Hjortur Smarason told AFP. Smarason donated the hamburger and fries to the National Museum of Iceland, but the institution rejected it, because it was “not equipped” to preserve the food. No matter: The burger now lives at the Snotra House, a hostel in southern Iceland, where you can take a selfie with it.

What’s your AGE number? There’s more to eating healthy than watching your sugar and salt intake: You should also probably consider your AGEs, aka “advanced glycation end-products.” AGEs are compounds found in food that has been cooked using high heat, such as through deep-frying or grilling. In the past few decades, scientists have drawn significant correlations between the presence of AGEs in food and spikes in AGEs in the body, which researchers have further linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. The Post and Courier follows one South Carolina scientist’s journey exploring the connection between AGEs and cancer.

The Counter Stories by our editors.