FDA: the “Faith-based Dining Administration”

“FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating such pork is extremely low.”
– USDA/FDA, 4/26/2007

“We have no reason to believe that any of those are currently in the human food supply as a direct ingredient.”
– USDA/FDA, 4/26/2007

“We have no reason to believe that anything other than the rice protein concentrate or the wheat gluten have been a problem in the United States recently.”
– USDA/FDA, 4/26/2007

“But overall, we believe the risk to be extremely low to humans.”
– USDA/FDA, 4/26/2007

“We believe that the likelihood of illness from such exposure is extremely low.”
– USDA/FDA, 5/1/2007

“One of the reasons we believe that this is very low in humans is due to the dilution effect.”
– USDA/FDA, 5/1/2007

“We believe the situation in the poultry is very much like that for the swine.”
– USDA/FDA, 5/1/2007

“We do not believe that there is any significant threat of human illness from consuming poultry.”
– USDA/FDA, 5/1/2007

“We believe the likelihood of illness to humans, including infants, is extremely small.”
– USDA/FDA, 5/3/2007

“We believe the likelihood of a human illness is very remote.”
– USDA/FDA, 5/3/2007

“We have no reason to believe those animals are any risk to the public.”
– USDA/FDA, 5/3/2007

“There’s no tolerance for any of these compounds, either melamine or cyanuric acid. [...] We just don’t know when we get these mixtures together. So there is no, really no acceptable level.”
– USDA/FDA, 4/26/2007

I’m not a very spiritual person, but I’m having a crisis of faith.

Twice a week I sit in on the FDA’s media teleconference regarding our growing food safety crisis, and twice a week I come away struck by the difference between what officials believe and what they actually know. As a born agnostic and a fan of science, I can fully appreciate the FDA’s reluctance to express absolute certainty. But as a devoted father and pet owner, I can’t help but find their reassurances less than reassuring.

First we were told that none of the adulterated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate had made its way into the human food supply, and then we were informed that a mere 6,000 hogs had eaten feed contaminated by “salvaged” pet food. Next it was chickens. 3 million of them. Slaughtered, butchered and eaten by unsuspecting Americans.

Then 20 million more chickens, and today another 50,000 hogs… not to mention the God-knows-how-many fish in the US and Canada raised on farms now known to have received Canadian fish meal manufactured from contaminated Chinese flours.

Still… not to worry, we are told, because large manufacturers are “unlikely to have exposed their animals to large amounts of the tainted pet products.”

Uh-oh. Qualified statements like that set off alarm bells, and every bell this scandal has rung thus far has been answered a few days later with another revelation. The practice of selling salvaged pet food for livestock feed is more widespread than previously acknowledged, encompassing nearly the entire US pet food manufacturing industry. Given what we know of these practices, and the nature of the livestock and feed industries, it is reasonable to speculate that hundreds of millions of U.S.-grown hogs, chickens and fish have been contaminated, dating back to November or July of 2006, or perhaps even further.

But not to worry, we are told, for even that only represents a small percentage of the 9 billion chickens raised in the U.S. annually, a number the FDA bizarrely considers to be “a small part of [our] overall diet.” Affected hogs and chickens “appear to be healthy.” Even if the boneless breast in your freezer does contain melamine, it’s only a tiny amount. And besides, we are told, “we have no reason to believe” this poses a risk to human health.

Uh-huh.

I know I sometimes come off as a tad alarmist, but before you dismiss my skepticism lets first review what we know versus what we believe.

What we know:

  • Tainted pet food has killed or sickened tens of thousands of cats and dogs, some dropping dead within a meal or two of first ingesting melamine and related compounds such as cyanuric acid.
  • Autopsies have discovered “plasticized” cat kidneys, clogged with crystals comprised of equal parts melamine and cyanuric acid.
  • Laboratory tests have have reproduced the formation of these crystals in a test tube by mixing melamine and cyanuric acid in the presence of urine.
  • Tainted pet food containing melamine and cyanuric acid was “salvaged,” and sold as livestock feed, contaminating untold millions of hogs and chickens.
  • About three million chickens and several hundred hogs are known to have been slaughtered, butchered and presumably eaten. At least another 20 million chickens are known to have consumed contaminated feed.

What we believe:

  • Tainted meat poses little risk to human health.

I would love to join my friends in the legacy media in reporting that our food supply is safe. I love food. I eat it every day. But I’m having trouble taking that leap of faith, not simply because of what we know, but because of what we don’t know. For example, we have no idea if melamine/cyanuric acid crystals bio-accumulate in human kidneys over time, and we’re not even sure exactly how long or how widely these toxins have contaminated our food supply.

And… despite USDA/FDA’s recent assurance that contaminated meat is safe to eat, this “most extreme risk assessment scenario” was conducted without ever bothering to test melamine and cyanuric acid levels in the meat of contaminated hogs and chickens.

At least, that’s what they told me. FDA spokesperson Julie Zawisza explained that “identifying these compounds in high protein environments (eg, muscle/tissue) is not that simple” and that they “are still working on a valid test.”

Fair enough. So I asked Midwest Labs, a widely respected testing facility, if they could test “a pork chop or piece of chicken” as reliably as they could test, say, a can of dog food. Their response?

“We can certainly test a food item or a pet food item for melamine. Their is a bit of prep work involved in testing a food sample for melamine, but this is certainly not a problem. Testing muscle tissue will only give a different consistency to the prepped sample. Neither should be a problem.”

When USDA/FDA released contaminated animals from quarantine, and approved them for market, they did so without ever directly testing the meat, and with no restriction on the sale or consumption of organs such as liver or kidney, where the melamine/cyanuric acid crystals are known to accumulate… organ meat that millions of Americans do consume on a regular basis, sometimes knowingly.

USDA/FDA say they believe the melamine level in meat would be very low, but they haven’t bothered to test it. They say they believe melamine is nontoxic to humans, but then, a few months ago we believed it was nontoxic to dogs and cats too. They say they believe that there have been no human health problems due to eating tainted pork and chicken, but admit that the Centers for Disease Control has “limited ability to detect subtle problems due to melamine and melamine-related compounds.”

And while USDA/FDA have focused their efforts almost entirely on inspecting imports of vegetable protein concentrates, and on tracking contaminated product through the animal and human food supply, the import of processed foods, meat and farmed seafood products from China has continued unchecked and unabated, despite the obvious potential of contamination within China’s own, largely unregulated, agriculture and food industries.

According to recent studies, 81-percent of America’s seafood is imported, and about 40-percent of that is farmed. China is the world’s aquaculture leader, accounting for about 70-percent of global production. It is also a major U.S. supplier of farm-raised shrimp, catfish, tilapia, carp, clams, eel and other aquaculture products.

We now know that it is common practice in China to spike the nitrogen level of livestock feed by adulterating the product with both scrap melamine and scrap cyanuric acid. And it has also been widely reported that this contaminated feed is routinely used in China’s burgeoning aquaculture industry.

The chemical producers said it was common knowledge that for years cyanuric acid had been used in animal and fish feed. [...] “Cyanuric acid scrap can be added to animal feed,” says Yu Luwei, general manager of Juancheng Ouya Chemical Company in Shandong Province. “I sell it to fish meal manufacturers and fish farmers. It can also be added to feed for other animals.”

Fish physiology can leave them particularly prone to bio-accumulating certain contaminants, and the nature of common aquaculture practices tends to exacerbate the problem. Farmed seafood raised on a steady diet of contaminated feed would surely retain some of the toxins in its flesh. But as far as we know, no imported, Chinese aquaculture products have yet been tested.

The fact is, due to greed, negligence and uncontrolled Chinese capitalism our food supply has been widely contaminated by melamine and related compounds, and USDA, FDA, CDC and other government agencies have no idea what the long term human health effects might be. Throughout this unfolding crisis, the regulatory agencies tasked with assuring the safety and purity of our food supply have consistently downplayed the risk to humans — a somewhat understandable attitude considering Chinese and American consumers have apparently been eating melamine-tainted food for months, if not years, with no known epidemiological impact. But given the harm to our pets, and the fact that kidney damage is cumulative and can remain asymptomatic until renal function is mostly lost, I wonder how many Americans would be willing to accept on blind faith USDA/FDA’s reassurances that products containing “low” levels of melamine are perfectly safe to feed to our children?

Personally, I find it hard to believe.

Comments

  1. 1

    YOS LIB BRO spews:

    NO WAY WILL THIS COUNTRY (THE USA) BAN CHINESE PRODUCTS.

    CHINA WILL RETALIATE BY DE-FUNDING THE IRAQ WAR.

  2. 3

    Richard Pope spews:

    I just don’t think that the Food & Drug Administration was that much better (or that much worse) during the Bill Clinton administration. And the United States genuflected just as much to the Chinese government back then as we do now.

    What is our STATE government doing about this? States have authority over all food that is sold or consumed within their borders. In Washington, the state Department of Agriculture regulates most food, except the state Department of Healh regulates restaurants and other places where prepared food is sold on premises for immediate consumption.

    I really don’t hear President Bush saying much about this. Nor do I hear anything from Governor Gregoire or hardly any of the other governors around the country. And leading presidential candidates and congressional leaders are also silent.

  3. 4

    Richard Pope spews:

    Of course, we definitely need to test animal meat for melamine and other improper chemicals.

  4. 5

    spews:

    My Inner Schoolmarm wonders …

    In your fourth graf, you mention “50,000 thousand hogs”. Is this a creative way of saying 50 million, or just a garble?

    Either “50 thousand” or “50,000” is acceptable; hedging your bets by using both constructs is erroneous.

  5. 6

    RightEqualsStupid spews:

    So hopefully when Dickless Pope’s relatives die from poisoned food, it will make everyone feel better that Bush wasn’t any worse at picking FDA heads.

    Do you actually think about the shit you write Dickie? Are your standards that low?

    Who cares where Bill Clinton’s FDA would rate? If your pets (or family) are dying NOW while Bush is in office, isn’t that just a LITTLE bit more important? You Publicans tried running against Bill Clinton in the last election and got your ass kicked. You might want to start trying to run on what you’ll do to fix America not against Bill Clinton who, in case you haven’t noticed, is no longer a public offce holder.

    What a miserable fuck you and your ilk are.

  6. 7

    ArtFart spews:

    3 FDA (and presumably USDA) oversight has probably been becoming increasingly lax over the last several administrations as both parties have slavishly pursued “regulatory reform” as if it was the Holy Grail. Since the turn of the millenium, though, it seems we’ve been seeing a rapidly increasing dependence on imported food and food ingredients, along with most everything else. (Including money, for that matter.)

  7. 8

    ArtFart spews:

    3 Richard, as far as the last part of your comment is concerned:

    “I really don’t hear President Bush saying much about this. Nor do I hear anything from Governor Gregoire or hardly any of the other governors around the country. And leading presidential candidates and congressional leaders are also silent.”

    If we don’t hear from them, they need to hear from us.

  8. 9

    Tlazolteotl spews:

    Fish physiology can leave them particularly prone to bio-accumulating certain contaminants, and the nature of common aquaculture practices tends to exacerbate the problem. Farmed seafood raised on a steady diet of contaminated feed would surely retain some of the toxins in its flesh.

    We don’t know that Goldy, precisely because, as you say, the products have not been tested.

    And yes there are differences in physiology that might make fish and shellfish more likely to accumulate melamine and cyanuric acids – they tend to excrete more of their excess nitrogen as ammonia instead of uric acid.

    But please do be careful over-reaching in areas where you don’t have the expertise. You really don’t have the expertise in analytical chemistry or toxicology to make some of the statements that you have been making.

    I am not arguing with your underlying point. I’m saying, don’t undermine your credibility by stating as fact things that are not known at this point, or are, scientifically, mere speculation.

  9. 10

    Maureen spews:

    Your questioning of Midwest Labs as to whether they can test for melamine in meat is on the nose. As you wrote: “FDA spokesperson Julie Zawisza explained that “identifying these compounds in high protein environments (eg, muscle/tissue) is not that simple” and that they “are still working on a valid test.”

    The FDA has a short memory. Just look up “melamine” on Wikipedia. They footnote –and enclose a link — to a 1991 USDA guide that shows how to test for melamine in animals. What was going on then?

    Wikipedia, for crying out loud. I find it hard to believe that the FDA doesn’t have some decent scientists left among all the incompetent political appointees.

  10. 12

    spews:

    POPEaDOPE at 3 and others,

    You are a very bright guy according to everyone who knows you.

    HOW IN THE FUCK CAN YOU BE SO STUPID? What in God’s name does Bill Clinton have to do with our food supply and the FDA now? Your comment, like most of your drivel, is morally repugnant and intellectually bankrupt.

    The food supply system is flawed, the current administration is failing us yet again. (Iraq, Katrina, 9/11…) and you want to blame Bill.

    I have not been angered enough to swear at you for a while now, but this time you ignorant fuck, I am.

    It really is no wonder that you can’t get elected street sweeper. It is no wonder ethics and standards questions dog your “legal” practice.

    Go fuck yourself!

    And while you are at it, have some chicken and farmed salmon, and feed your dog some of that mass market pet food. Let me know how that works out for you! Asshole.

  11. 13

    spews:

    Richard at 3 part two:

    I really don’t hear President Bush saying much about this. Nor do I hear anything from Governor Gregoire or hardly any of the other governors around the country. And leading presidential candidates and congressional leaders are also silent.

    Your fearless leader is a moron puppet of a man. The less we hear from him, the better. The governor on the other hand, has no control of the nations food chain.

    Go fuck yourself, asshole!

  12. 14

    Ronnie spews:

    The fact that this isn’t a political issue IS the point. This is a serious problem and requires immediate leadership by whomever is running the FDA.

    What if this was about BFE instead of melamine? How many people would have to get sick before the government would put in stringent testing programs? Sadly, it would probably never happen. I firmly believe NO party would be able to resist the type of shitstorm that an intensive testing program would create. Livestock would get slaughtered, sources would be tracked, but “burdensome” testing (a la Japan) would surely be pushed back upon.

    It’s a frightening thought, and it borders on roulette with public health. I’m afraid roulette is exactly what is happening with the current crisis.

    P.S. The talk of “State” involvement is foolish and is rooted in party honking. Go back to your juvenile court

  13. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Melamine Scandal Spreads to Canadian Salmon Farms and Washington State Hatcheries; USDA Lets Tainted Fish Cross U.S. Border For Sale in Stores

    “By GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

    “SEATTLE — The pet food recall investigation has expanded into another human food source. The Food and Drug Administration says Canadian fish meal makers apparently used some pet food tainted with melamine … to make the pellets fish farms use to feed hungry salmon.

    “The organization is sending inspectors to check out the feed used by fish farming operations in Canada and the United States. They have found several facilities where it was used, but say it is not necessary – at this time – to pull farmed fish off the market. ‘We do not believe that there is any significant human health risk associated with consuming these fish,’ said James Acheson, of the FDA. But the FDA is sending agents to those facilities to find out what they are doing with fish that ate the meal. …

    “State agriculture officials say … they don’t know too much more than this: One shipment of fish food was stopped and held at the border until the FDA stepped in and let it pass. The situation has many retailers, including the Ballard Market, avoiding farmed fish all together.

    “But the tainted feed may also have been used to feed hatchery fish … released into the wild … [and] caught by sport and commercial fishers. Officials from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife say they purchased the tainted product for six state hatcheries and most was fed to fish before the problem was discovered. It has since removed the product but some of the fish that ate it were already released into the wild.”

    Excerpted under Fair Use; for complete story and/or copyright info see http://tinyurl.com/2lw5xw

  14. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @3 “I just don’t think that the Food & Drug Administration was that much better (or that much worse) during the Bill Clinton administration.”

    Yes it was, Richard. This crap didn’t happen on our watch. But it’s happening by the bucketful on the GOP’s watch.

    Connect the dots: Busheviks don’t believe in business regulation or allowing defrauded or injured consumers to sue. The message to business is: Anything goes. It’s not surprising that pirate capitalism is running amok. And we’re the ones paying for it.

    Another miserable failure by the corrupt, incompetent, illegitimate Bush regime.

  15. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Here’s what’s going to happen. Mainstream businessmen are quaking in their boots right now, because they understand the “pendulum effect.” The Bush regime’s excesses will lead to public overreaction — and a vast array of new, stringent, and costly regulations on virtually all businesses. Any businessman worth his salt, no matter how Republican he leans, is thinking right now that the sooner Bush leaves office the less the regulatory overreaction will be — and the better off he and his shareholders will be. When Big Business picks up the impeachment banner — and that day is coming, and coming soon — it’s over.

  16. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 “Do you actually think about the shit you write Dickie?”

    No.

    “Are your standards that low?”

    Yes. That’s why he can’t get elected to anything.

  17. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 Is it your position we should eat fish that were fed melamine-contaminated food until we know for sure it’s unsafe and will harm us?

  18. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @14 “This is a serious problem and requires immediate leadership by whomever is running the FDA.”

    No one is running the FDA. Bush’s government, by design, is controlled anarchy.

  19. 21

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    Did you Moonbat!s forget the FDA person, Dr David Acheson was appointed by Slick Willie? I proved it two weeks ago.

    Moonbat!s still stooooooopid as ever! No memories!

  20. 22

    spews:

    and just think…this is just the type of people [the FDA] that would be in charge of NATIONAL HEALTH CARE. and you thought the HMO’s were bad?
    HA! you chuckle heads run around constantly screaming that the sky is falling, usually followed by “the government SHOULD do this….”…and where does it get you?
    you think china is bad? you think the FDA is bad? what do you think it would be like for healthcare?
    you haven’t thought about that ,have you?
    maybe talking some more about how we are all “one world” [YECH!] and singing kumbaya while holding candles might do it…ya think?
    and HINT…..china is part of that ‘we are all one world’ world…get a clue……..

  21. 23

    spews:

    maureen @10……..yup, we are working on a valid test. it is difficult to test anything that involves proteins because they tend to ,for lack of a better layman’s term, “gum up the works”.
    but a valid test…and that just means that you get reproducible data….is right around the corner.

  22. 24

    Lola spews:

    http://www.kcanimalhealth.com/.....n/list.htm

    Midwest Labs is located right in the heart of the “Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.” Interesting to note the large number of food manufacturers and related industries concentrated here. Take a look at the above list–and the rest of the website–touting the advantages of having all these resources located together. Plus an interesting selection of news stories. For example, this one on food security:
    http://www.kcanimalhealth.com/.....082206.htm

    this one that references a company that can trace beef shipments via DNA:
    http://www.kcanimalhealth.com/.....AP_Hub.htm

    this one that discusses why improving internal monitoring of our food supply is essential if the US wants to ship food overseas:
    http://www.kcanimalhealth.com/.....090506.htm

    Lots of scientific, educational, business and financial resources available and all close to where a high percentage of our beef and pork come from. I don’t understand … why its soooo difficult for the FDA and the affected businesses to figure it out …

    I wonder if tainted chickens and pork and fish are being sold to Europe, Japan, other 1st world countries? Or have food manufacturers already contacted their distributors to assure them that “none of the bad stuff” got into THEIR markets? Will reaction from other countries have more impact on this crisis than reaction from American consumers?

  23. 25

    Lola spews:

    There is an assay for melamine in fish; why not one for pork and chicken?

    Release No. 0134.07—
    TRANSCRIPT OF MEDIA BRIEFING UPDATE BY FDA AND USDA REGARDING ADULTERATED ANIMAL FEED Washington D.C. – May 8, 2007

    REPORTER: … about the antibiotics found in Chinese imported catfish, is that one of the areas where the FDA is looking at a higher risk import, and are you looking at that catfish in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and testing it for melamine?

    DR. ACHESON: [...] yes.[ ... ]as part of our risk based approach to protecting the food supply. That’s an assignment which is focused on obtaining and testing a range of different fish samples, looking for antibiotic residues and other things. We have just very recently validated an assay for melamine in fish. That is something that we did not have a week ago. Our assay teams have been moving really fast and we now have a validated assay for melamine in fish. And that is going to be added into our screening looking for the antibiotic residues. … We’re going to go and test any remaining fish samples that we have that are currently in the lab as part of this assignment, and as new samples come in we will test those for melamine related compound.

  24. 26

    Lola spews:

    There is an assay for melamine in fish; why not one for pork and chicken?
    Release No. 0134.07—
    TRANSCRIPT OF MEDIA BRIEFING UPDATE BY FDA AND USDA REGARDING ADULTERATED ANIMAL FEED Washington D.C. – May 8, 2007

    REPORTER: … about the antibiotics found in Chinese imported catfish, is that one of the areas where the FDA is looking at a higher risk import, and are you looking at that catfish in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and testing it for melamine?

    DR. ACHESON: [...] yes.[ ... ]as part of our risk based approach to protecting the food supply. That’s an assignment which is focused on obtaining and testing a range of different fish samples, looking for antibiotic residues and other things. We have just very recently validated an assay for melamine in fish. That is something that we did not have a week ago. Our assay teams have been moving really fast and we now have a validated assay for melamine in fish. And that is going to be added into our screening looking for the antibiotic residues. … We’re going to go and test any remaining fish samples that we have that are currently in the lab as part of this assignment, and as new samples come in we will test those for melamine related compound.

  25. 27

    Lola spews:

    Is It Really All that difficult to test Pork and Poultry for Melamine Contamination? I Wonder …

    http://web.pacific.edu/x7982.xml

    News Release–Pacific Chemistry Professor and Student Discover Breakthrough Testing Method for Pet Food (April 23, 2007)

    (Stockton, Calif.) — A professor and graduate student in University of the Pacific’s chemistry department have developed a new method for determining how to identify foreign substances in pet food. The breakthrough discovery allows scientists to determine whether pet food has been contaminated in a matter of minutes.

    Professor O. David Sparkman and graduate student Teresa Vail used a mass spectrometer with the D.A.R.T. (Direct Analysis in Real Time) interface device to determine that a can of dog food that was recently recalled contained melamine, a chemical used in plastic furniture, cookware, and fertilizers. The chemical is at the heart of the nationwide recall of contaminated pet food that has caused numerous animal deaths.

    “The significance of the D.A.R.T. mass spectral technique is that results are available in minutes or seconds,” Sparkman said. “Because of enhancements we have made to the D.A.R.T. technology, our answers are definitely unambiguous.”

    [...]
    Sparkman is a mass spectrometry consultant to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and manager of the chemistry department’s mass spectrometry facility.

  26. 28

    Cynthia spews:

    I believe that if the FDA told us what they really know about our food supply, that they could cause wide spread panic so, the FDA is remaining vague about the potential danger from eating tainted food.

    The FDA’s statements are very contradictory. They just aren’t being straight with us on the facts.

  27. 29

    spews:

    Just wanted to poke my head in the door and say Thank You to Goldy for his outstanding reporting on the food adulteration outrage. I’m in Florida, and I’ve been following this disaster for a while, too, on my little blog litbrit as well as at Shakesville, where I’m a contributor.

    The blogosphere is buzzing about this, but the near-silence of the celebrity-obsessed, reality-denying Mainstream Media is deafening. I agree with commenter Cynthia, above: our “leaders” are probably trying to avoid panicking the public. Well, I am bloody panicked.

  28. 30

    spews:

    Sorry to join the fray so late. Long day yesterday.

    Puddybud:

    You commented that you had somehow proved that Dr. Acheson was a Clinton appointee. I couldn’t find the original post, but I did do some checking on Dr. Acheson.

    He may have had some position at the FDA prior to 2004, however I can find nothing that shows him as a head of department or in another senior position.

    It’s quite possible that he’s a capable researcher when under appropriate supervision. I don’t know. It is also indisputable that he was appointed to the important and responsible position of chief medical officer and director of the Office of Food Defense under President Bush.

    While I realize that it’s difficult for Republicans to understand, in a Democratic administration, the job application does not begin with the question of party affiliation.

    So, when we look at this current debacle with our nation’s food supply and point at the Bush administration, and you say that one of the senior players also had a job in the Clinton administration, most of us see your comments for what they are.

    Once again, trying to blame President Clinton for another of President Bush’s failures.

    You should really be hoping for another Democratic President, Puddybud, and should really be grateful to President Clinton.

    If it weren’t for him, you’d have to blame all the Republican failures on President Carter. While that worked for President Reagan, I notice that the country finally caught on to the scam for Bush the First.

    Hate to break it to you, Puddybud, but I think that the country has caught on to you folks once again.

  29. 31

    Tlazolteotl spews:

    Lola @ 26:

    You can’t take some grad student’s experiment and call it an analytical method. The instrument used here is a research instrument. It doesn’t have the performance parameters to be used in a regulatory setting. Methods used in regulatory settings need to meet certain criteria, such as reproducibility and intercomparability of the results, and you don’t have that here. It would be laughed out of court.

  30. 32

    War4Sale spews:

    I don’t think the FDA actually wants to know whether eating meat contaminated with melamine poses a risk to human health. Think about it – if they conduct tests that prove it’s a health hazard, they will be obligated to do something about it!

    That something would be a massive recall of meats that would mean major losses to the industry. Instead the FDA and their corporate partners are probably doing the same analysis that some of the auto makers have done in the past when they’ve detected a faulty part that poses a safety risk – they calculate what the cost would be of a major recall vs. doing nothing.

    If 5,000 people happen to get seriously ill or die, they or their survivors would have many legal hurdles to scale before it cost the industry anything:

    1. Prove their illness was a direct result of eating tainted meat.

    2. Establish in a court of law which company the meat came from.

    3. Prove the company was negligent in the legal sense.

    In the end it’s cheaper for the companies to leave the meat on the market and take their chances in court and the FDA (particularly under Republican leadership) is not particularly concerned with regulating markets so much as lobbying for the industry. It’s all about the money. They have about the same concern for public health that big tobacco or Exxon has.

  31. 34

    dcf spews:

    People, people, people–your are people aren’t you? There is a way to solve this problem without depending on government or the FDA–look for people in your community that raise meat and other produce for you to buy. I’ve been raising my own meat and other produce since 1979–and this fiasco is precisely why I started doing just that.

    If you can’t get over the problem, make a run around the it!

  32. 35

    dingbat spews:

    war4sale

    Unfortunately you are correct. Our society for whatever reasons has given our food supply over to foreign countries. Lets think about this for a moment, if the FDA did PROVE the food was bad what would we be able to eat??

    The infrastructure just isn’t there anymore, all the US gluten suppliers, except for 4, are out of business. The mass panic would probably kill more people than the bad food.

    Unfortunate as it is this is the reality of the situation. We have screwed ourselves, we all want cheaper, we all want to pay nothing for something, the market is just responding to our wishes. Now that we see the folly of our ways it is going to take lots of time to change the mess we are in. The feds are right in there with us. No one wants to poison anyone really. However there is this new bullshit called ” risk assessment” what does that really mean. It means that it is better to kill off 5,000 with bad food than kill off 10,000 with panic.

    We are screwed either way. I personally think that this has been going on for years and some goof somewhere thought to add even more crap to the grains and now they got caught. The fda is powerless to act. Really what would you have them do, announce that the food is bad?? and start a panic??

    No matter whose fault this is, republican/democrat we will all pay for it, higher taxes, dead pets, sick and dying people. The only way to change this is at the ballot box, elect someone different.

    Remember cheap shit is just that , shit.

  33. 36

    spews:

    http://www.montereyherald.com/news/ci_5852293

    Natural Selection fined $95,000
    Excessive wastewater discharge
    By DANIA AKKAD
    Herald Staff Writer
    Article Last Updated: 05/09/2007 01:26:32 AM PDT

    The company at the center of last year’s E. coli spinach outbreak has been fined $95,000 for releasing too much wastewater from its San Juan Bautista processing plant, some of which flowed into a tributary of the Pajaro River.
    The state Regional Water Quality Control Board fined Natural Selection Foods for discharging about four times the amount of water used to clean produce inside its plant during most of the 2005 and 2006 growing seasons, said the board’s complaint.

    The water, which contained chlorine and organic matter washed from the vegetables, had the potential to decrease oxygen available for fish and affect the habitat of steelhead trout, a board official said.

    The plant, at 1721 San Juan Highway, is a different facility from the one associated with the spinach E. coli outbreak.

  34. 37

    War4Sale spews:

    dingbat says:

    “The fda is powerless to act. Really what would you have them do, announce that the food is bad?? and start a panic??”

    What I would have them do is truly regulate the market (that is their charter, after all) so that the chances of tainted meat making it to our dinner tables on a large scale would be much, much lower than they are now. The FDA is not powerless, they merely lack the political will to do a more effective job (just as FERC did while consumers were being fleeced during the bogus California energy “crisis.”)

    Now that the bad meat is already in our food supply, I would have them do spot testing and order a recall targeting products from companies that test positive for melamine and cyanuric acid.

    What will really cause a panic is the perception that the FDA has become completely corrupted by the industries they are supposed to police and are now actively participating in a cover up.

    “No matter whose fault this is, republican/democrat we will all pay for it, higher taxes, dead pets, sick and dying people. The only way to change this is at the ballot box, elect someone different.”

    I agree with you, but in order to change things at the ballot box, we have to inform ourselves by first investigating and then holding those responsible accountable.

  35. 38

    dingbat spews:

    war4sale
    “What I would have them do is truly regulate the market”

    I agree. I should have been more explicit, I was talking about short term fix. What you are suggesting is what they should have been doing all along and should do in the future. I was shocked at how little they actually do inspect, 1% of additive imports. Don’t know about you but I can’t do 1% of my job.

    And yes we need to be informed however most of the populace is more concerned about how much jail time Paris Hilton is going to get, or who is going to win American Idol etc.

    Maybe this whole thing will wake up the sleeping masses, maybe this is a good thing in disguise. Maybe a little panic would be a good thing.

    God knows we need the FDA to step up and do their jobs. If you want a good laugh, at today’s house committee meeting, Acheson said ” the system is working remarkably well” and he said that with a straight face.

    db

  36. 40

    dingbat spews:

    Crystal W

    Don’t know. Maybe because of all the money involved, but you are correct this is an attack on our food supply. Any terrorist worth anything is watching, they see the holes in our food inspection system. I would have thought that DHS would have become involved and done something. So far DHS has been silent except to back up the FDA in the “risk assessment” statement.

    db

  37. 41

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    John Barelli: Sorry dude, I posted the link some time ago. I stay in the now! Keep Searching.

  38. 42

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    John: I get paid for being able to research. You have to know how to create the search string because most search engines are paid to display what someone else wants you to find.

    I do remember PelletHead saying so what when I originally posted it.

  39. 43

    Carl Gordon spews:

    I’m convinced. It sounds like your article was researched with fervor, with the proper amount of learned analysis, larded excess, and not too heavy on the cerebral obfuscation and intellectual twaddle, which is the flavor I usually get from reading somebody’s thorough dissertation on various deep subjects and mailed death threats. For instance, I plead guilty as to way too much research on my current health related conundrums and the solutions to the problem, being there is only so much dense exploratory investigation and insoluble fiber that I can digest before the eyes start to glaze over, I get that machine noise in my head, and I realize that I need a more scrupulous background (in my case, probably medical training or medication on a more professional level) in the subject in order to proceed and glean any further useful information. Your document delves into the subject deeply, yet retains a more novice friendly bearing and comportment. I could read this article in a proctologist’s waiting room and it has enough pedantic pith of a entertaining nature to distract me sufficiently.

    It’s Wednesday afternoon and like an extra in a zombie movie, my eyes are bleeding and I am hungering for brains. And, as Emmanuel Kant was wont to say and might even write down, I am a zombie Mark Anthony, stabbed in the back by Hamlet, like in King Lear.

  40. 44

    Judith Brisson spews:

    Thanks for doing this investigative work. Have you any idea why we’re not hearing more about this in the mainstream media? I’ve never seen a better list of reasons for being a vegetarian!

  41. 45

    Frank Jacobs spews:

    re the pendulum swinging – it looks to me like the pendulum is upside down and it doesn’t matter which way it swings, it’s going to take heads off either way.

    A reasonable neutral place for the pendulum would be…

    A. there is no such thing as “limited liability”. If people working under you are ordered, even indirectly, to do something, you are responsible. That is to say, there is NOTHING a corporation does that does not have a human being responsible for it.

    B. if you do something that causes people to die, you’ve committed manslaughter or murder, depending on whether you knew ahead of time that they could die.

    C. NO corporate or other business structure can defend or protect you from this responsibility.

    That’s the big picture…

    Dealing with this on a PERSONAL level doesn’t require being a vegetarian, but it DOES require that one buy local, and get involved enough to know what local IS, and support your sources in buying local – EVEN IF IT COSTS MORE. That just means you live a little bit lower on the hog, so to speak, and most Americans have a long way down to come to be reasonable citizens of Earth.

    Addressing another question – why should it be treated like a “terrorist” incident? Who is in place to profit from Americans becoming terrified about corporate food? Hippies? Hardly the people we’re going to create a “terrorist” threat to benefit.