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Frozen Frog in Piles of Peas Frogs can Freeze to Breathe Again

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by hearit

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In The News

It’s an event that’s creeping out frozen vegetable buyers nationwide, and the Michigan family who discovered a frozen frog amidst its pile of peas may be laughing now—but isn’t especially impressed by the FDA’s lack of action about the freezing frog in the veggies “trick”. Just for the record, frozen frogs can actually hop back to life and breathe again—really. Those intrigued, view the attached North American Woods Frogs video—medical science is using the research to better the field of human organ transplants.

Tim Hoffman’s not particularly impressed by the FDA: “The Feds [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] knew about this [frozen frog in the vegetables incident] for a whole week and didn’t tell anybody, and meanwhile people were making soup,” with bags of frozen veggies, says the Michigan resident.

Tim Hoffman had an unusual mid-October, early morning experience--hearing panicked screams from his wife, who was in the kitchen. Hoffman says he thought, “What in the hell is going on here?” Meanwhile, his wife was unable to answer—using show-and-tell communication instead. The object of horror: a recently-opened bag of frozen vegetables, complete with “prize”. Perched atop mounds of the expected frozen vegetables, peas and carrots included, stood a (once-live) frog.

The Michigan residents immediately photographed the frog and vegetables package, then sealed up the bag of frozen “veggies”—phoning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) office location in Detroit. The FDA person who took the “frozen frog report” by phone assured Hoffman that the matter would supposedly be investigated, that someone from the Food and Drug Administration office “would get back to him” about the included frog.

As days after FDA notification of the dead frog—still no word arrived from the Detroit Food and Drug Administration office. The Michigan man, who found the frozen frog, says he grew increasingly worried about whether the case of the dead amphibian was really an isolated incident—or part of a larger, and potentially problematic, situation. Hoffman was worried that other people might be purchasing frog-laden, frozen bags of vegetables, while the FDA seemed to be dragging its heels.

The FDA’s seemingly apparent lack of care, in addressing the frozen frog in the veggies, appears to have been accurate.

Like most issues, not a lot happens until the media gets involved. Frustrated, the Michigan man chose to contact longtime daily columnist John Schneider, of the Lansing State Journal newspaper—finally a stir, or at least awareness of the frozen frog discovery, occurred.

“After talking to [Hoffman], I could tell that he wasn’t after money or trying to extort anything from anyone,” says journalist Schneider. “He [Hoffman] was clear right up front: He said, ‘I don’t want anything. I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone. I just want to bring this to someone’s attention to make sure it’s [the frozen frog in bag of vegetables discovery] an isolated incident and not more than that.’ ”

Schneider helped expedite things—in a way that the Food and Drug Administration certainly could have expedited itself: the journalist immediately contacted the Meijer grocery store chain, where the Meijer store-brand of frozen vegetables had originally been purchased. The Meijer store chain immediately yanked the frozen vegetables from Grand Ledge, Michigan, shelves and issued formal apology to the Hoffman family.

“Our Grand Ledge [Michigan state location] store has opened and inspected the [frozen vegetable] packages at their store, and found nothing out of the ordinary,” Meijer spokesman Guglielmi conveyed to the journalist. Apparently the grocery store chain found no more dead frogs in its current stock of frozen veggies. “We [Meijer] believe this [dead, frozen frog] is an isolated incident.”

Hopefully that’s the case—frozen frogs, amidst vegetables, tends to kill the “appetizing” factor for a food brand.

The Michigan resident was most irked by lack of action: “The part that has me upset is that Meijer’s [grocery stores] never knew about this [dead, frozen frog in the vegetables] until [journalist] John Schneider called them. Why didn’t the FDA [Food and Drug Administration in Detroit] contact the [Meijer] store and at least let them know about this?”

Like what may be said of many government agencies, the FDA doesn’t seem to be saying a lot about the dead frog—at least at the moment. Acting director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Detroit office location, Art Czabaniuk, told NBC’s online version of the “Today Show” that he couldn’t comment on specifics pertaining to the frozen frog incident and discovery—at least, supposedly, until the FDA’s investigation into the ‘matter’ is complete. And when that happens, it just may be marked “top secret”.

“We [Food and Drug Administration] hope to complete our investigation very soon,” Czabaniuk says.

How very detailed.

For the Hoffmans, the frozen frog in the vegetables ‘trick’ has changed life a bit: “We’ll never open another bag of anything [to eat] without looking at it first,” says the Michigan resident. “If it [the frozen frog] had been in the middle of the [vegetable] bag, it [the frog] would have gotten eaten, I’m certain of it. It just happened to be on top.”

Hoffman claims that the intended recipient of the vegetables may not have complained: when discovering the once-live frog in the peas and carrots, Hoffman’s wife had actually been prepping those the veggies for the family dog “Zoey”.

“Lucky dog”.

Apparently “Zoey”, a yellow Labrador retriever with a not-so-hard life, has been dealing with some special dietary needs, followed by a bout with allergies. “She [the family’s dog] probably wouldn’t have complained,” about munching down the cold amphibian, claims Hoffman.

The world may never find out—at least not in this round of veggies.

Creepily enough, most would assume that a frozen frog equals, well, a dead frog. As it turns out, the issue of a frozen frog body—and potential for a possible future life—kind of depends on circumstances. The attached YouTube video of a North American Wood Frog species, literally coming “back to life”, seems to defy all logic and possibility—this little amphibian is shown taking full breaths after, yes, being no less than “frozen”. Researchers dub it “spontaneous resumption of function”—and it’s a “spontaneity” that most would appreciate. It seems frogs, at least certain species, don’t work quite like people (though science is working on that one). These little North American hoppers, and some of their buddies, can actually freeze in the coldest of climates, then “check back in”.

It is fair to clarify that the urge to “come back to life” is related to mating. Sexual reproduction carries a lot of weight--for every species—and that’s pretty much the goal, in a frozen amphibian taking deep breaths again. Whatever the reason, it’s no less than amazing. Watch the YouTube video, as a once-frozen North American Wood Frog actually begins to breathe again during its “thaw”.

Good thing those vegetables weren’t left out to naturally thaw, or microwaved in order to expedite that the process—that might have really created a stir, or heart attack, at the Hoffman household.

At least five, known, frog species can withstand being frozen—then heading back to life, in a heartbeat. If a frog can’t dig down far enough into the soil, in icier climates, in order to avoid those deep icy winters—they, well, literally freeze. But that doesn’t, necessarily, mean that a frog will “freeze to death”. In fact, some frogs actually come out of that chill, to live another day—and another mating season.

North America boasts five known species of “freeze-tolerant frogs” including the well-studied and oh-so-popular species of North American Wood Frog. The other four mention-worthy species of frogs capable of enduring icy temps include Cope’s Gray Tree Frog, the Eastern Gray Tree Frog, Spring Peepers Frogs and the Western Chorus Frog. In the freezing temps that hit in fall, all of these frog species bury themselves under forest floor leaves—apparently just far enough to avoid those fatal digits, but not deep enough to escape “Jack Frost” nipping at their toes and other exposed parts.

As the wood frog’s body freezes, the little amphibian’s heart continues to pump a protective glucose—or sugar—around the body. The frog’s hear slows, eventually stopping—and all of the frog’s other organs stop functioning too. The frog uses no oxygen while it’s frozen--and appears to be entirely dead. Researchers say that opening a frozen frog reveals a “beef jerky” appearance of organs—providing a startling flashback to science classes and participants. Frozen water around the amphibians’ organs looks like a “snow cone,” says Jon Costanzo, a physiological ecologist at in Ohio state, who studies freeze-tolerance in frog species.

Frozen frog experts, like biochemists Ken and Janet Storey of Ottawa, Canada, think the amphibians may have acquired the knack for “freezing”—and subsequently “jumping” back to life--after frog species withstood the deepest of freezes about 15,000 years ago during the ice age evolution.

When weather warms and exterior temps increase, a frozen frog literally melts. “The [previously frozen] frog has to go through a repair process,” says Costanzo. It [the frog] can be sluggish when it first thaws out, and its body needs to replace some damaged cells. Scientists are still trying to figure out what, exactly, tells the frog’s heart to start beating again—but it happens.

In fact, medical research for humans is actually using the frog freezing process to study—and hopefully aid in the medical specialty arena of human organ transplants.

Research behind “freezing frogs” provides yet another glaring insight into the highly-questionable accuracy of The site’s specific “Frogs and Toads” category, and “answer” to the question of “Can a frog live after being frozen?” provides the simple and profound: “Nothing can live after being frozen.” Someone had better notify science.

It’s hard to say exactly what frog species “Mr. Toad on Vegetables” may have been, or how he ended up in that pile of veggies—but, unfortunately, not even sex on the brain seems to have been worthy in aiding his cause. Perhaps the Food and Drug Administration will be able to provide some insight, following completion of its “investigation”, as to how or why the chilled amphibian got into a bag of food—but give it a year or two.

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