Posts filed under ‘Food News’

FDA’s Michael Taylor Promotes Himself

On Jan. 13, 2010 Michael Taylor, who was only recently hired as Food Safety Czar by President Obama, has now promoted himself to the new title Deputy Commissioner for Foods.  He created this position to head his newly created Office of Foods for the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

According to an FDA press release Taylor’s new mission is, “to develop and implement a prevention based strategy for food safety, plan implementation of new food safety legislation, and ensure that food labels contain clear and accurate information on nutrition.”  The web site also goes on to suggest that Taylor is a nationally recognized food safety expert.  Of course legitimate nationally recognized food safety experts point out that he is anything but.

As part of Taylor’s credentials the press release cites his previous experience in the FDA and USDA.  It also attempts to add authenticity by mentioning that he has served on several National Academy of Sciences expert committees.  What it fails to mention is that he has spent most of the past 30 years as a lawyer and lobbyist for the nefarious Monsanto Company.  It was Monsanto’s genetically modified corn process that introduced humanity to e coli.  And they used your tax dollars to do it.

So while the FDA’s web site tries to convince people that Michael Taylor is the right person to have governing their food safety, the reality is that he is likely just securing more amnesty and tax dollars for Monsanto.  That, after all, was the result of the his previous tenures in public service.

The Huffington Post has called Taylor, “The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history,” and that tends to be the consensus throughout the food safety world.  Only the future knows how many more Americans will have to die before Taylor is done.  One thing is for sure, no good will ever come of this.

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January 15, 2010 at 4:29 am 2 comments

Valentine’s Day is Sex on a Plate

The following is from my good friend Jennifer Iannolo, co-founder of the Culinary Media Network®.  Jen has planned the ultimate Valentine’s Day Event this year but I’ll let her tell you more about it.  Read on:

What does your inside voice say when you taste something sublime?

Mine says this.

Youve seen me talk a lot about Sex on a Plate on Twitter and Facebook, but I think its high time we got out of the digital realm to bring the experience to life, so if youre going to be in NYC for Valentines Day, I  hope youll join me for a very special evening.

Instead of the rote table-for-two scenario, I’m inviting you to my cocktail party in the Penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel. We’ve planned a sultry evening of tastes to evoke your senses with the kinds of aromas, textures  and flavors that will make your mouth water  and prime you for what we hope  is a most sensual evening. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single, double or threesome. Or any other combination.

Step inside my head, and see what Sex on a Plate looks like to me.

Pretty please, with a strawberry on top.

*** EVENT DETAILS***

DATE:         February 14, 2010

TIME:          6:30-10:00 PM

VENUE:      Roger Smith Hotel, Penthouse: Solarium, Lexington Avenue & 47th

EVENT TYPE: Cocktail & Tasting Party

MENU:        A series of delectable small plates and adult beverages

TICKETS:

$100 per person through January 31st

$125 per person after January 31st

Space is limited. 21 and over. Order your tickets here.

Note: Due to the nature of this tasting event, we will unfortunately not be able to accommodate food allergy restrictions. Menu may contain shellfish,
nuts or other allergens.

HOTEL SPECIAL

The Roger Smith Hotel is offering a special Take Monday Off rate on Valentines Day for this event. Please contact Brian Simpson for details on Twitter or via e-mail.

Photos: Kelly Cline

What does your inside voice say when you taste something sublime?

Mine says this.

Youve seen me talk a lot about Sex on a Plate on Twitter and Facebook, but
I think its high time we got out of the digital realm to bring the
experience to life, so if youre going to be in NYC for Valentines Day, I
hope youll join me for a very special evening.

Instead of the rote table-for-two scenario, Im inviting you to my cocktail
party in the Penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel. Weve planned a sultry
evening of tastes to evoke your senses with the kinds of aromas, textures
and flavors that will make your mouth water  and prime you for what we hope
is a most sensual evening. It doesnt matter if youre a single, double or
threesome. Or any other combination.

Step inside my head, and see what Sex on a Plate looks like to me.

Pretty please, with a strawberry on top.

*** EVENT DETAILS***

DATE:         February 14, 2010

TIME:          6:30-10:00 PM

VENUE:      Roger Smith Hotel, Penthouse: Solarium, Lexington Avenue & 47th

EVENT TYPE: Cocktail & Tasting Party

MENU:        A series of delectable small plates and adult beverages

TICKETS:

$100 per person through January 31st

$125 per person after January 31st

Space is limited. 21 and over. Order your tickets here.

Note: Due to the nature of this tasting event, we will unfortunately not be
able to accommodate food allergy restrictions. Menu may contain shellfish,
nuts or other allergens.

  HOTEL SPECIAL

The Roger Smith Hotel is offering a special Take Monday Off rate on
Valentines Day for this event. Please contact Brian Simpson for details on
Twitter or via e-mail.

Photos: Kelly Cline

January 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm

White House Kitchen Garden a Facade?

First Lady Michelle Obama in the Garden

The White House has certainly touted it’s Kitchen Garden, even going so far as to having it featured as the “theme ingredient” on a special Iron Chef:America.  I am sure the first lady is passionate and devoted to the sustainable, local and/or organic lifestyle.  Mrs. Obama certainly seems sincere in her concerns for the environment and in rescuing our children from the obesity epidemic created by agribusiness juggernauts like Monsanto and their foot soldiers, the fast food industry.

More.

January 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm 3 comments

Restaurants Can Not Charge Servers For Dine And Dash

The article I am about to share with you is not about TV chefs or food writers.  It does, however address, a situation that has been on the rise for some time now.  Dine and Dash or dine and ditch or chew and screw or running the check means ducking out without paying for the bill and it is at epodemic levels right now.  The people that do this know that it is theft.  They do not care; they are at peace with being a thief.  However, to combat this many restaurants are charging the server for the price of the meal.  Doesn’t sound fair does it?  Well, as you will soon learn it not only isn’t fair, it isn’t legal.  So all of you servers and bartenders, pay attention.

This is from Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz and author of Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths. It was published December 15, 2009.  Read and learn.

    The costs of getting stiffed shouldn’t be the server’s to pay.
    The first time I heard a waitress was forced to foot the bill when a customer skipped out, I thought surely this was the policy of a rogue manager.
    That was in early August. After four months of interviews with servers and managers at dozens of restaurants here and around the country, I now know otherwise.
    A growing number of restaurant patrons are eating meals and ducking out before paying.
    That’s illegal.
    Waiters and waitresses assigned to their tables are getting stuck with the tab. That’s illegal, too.
    As a U.S. Labor Department spokesperson put it in an e-mail response to my questions: “It is a violation for employers to improperly require tipped employees to pay for customers who walk out without paying their bills or for incorrectly totaled bills.”
    I will not name any particular restaurant because my research indicates so many are violating federal law by requiring their servers to cover customers’ unpaid bills. It strikes me as unfair to single out one. I will, however, give my list to the Labor Department.

December 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm 2 comments

USDA Puts “Spent Hens” In School Lunches

Just how bad does a product have to be if McDonald’s, KFC and other fast food chains refuse to use it?  Pretty bad.  Afterall they have no reservations about using high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, carcinogenic binders and a ton of genetically modified corn (the Chicken McNugget is more GM corn than chicken).  But even the Colonel and the Clown draw the line at using “spent hens.”

The USDA, however, claims that spent hens are safe enough to feed to your children.  To prove it they have spent 145 million of your tax dollars so they could put 77 million pounds of spent hens into your child’s school lunch.  That’s right the USDA, whose Strategic Plan Framework states their goal of  “enhancing food safety by taking steps to reduce the prevalence of foodborne hazards from farm to table,”  is feeding your kids food that even McDonald’s will not.

So what are spent hens?  Good question.  Spent hens are laying hens that no longer produce eggs.  Once they stop producing they are of no use to the producer; they are simply a living, breathing financial liability.  Commercial laying hens spend their lives crammed into tiny battery cages unable to walk freely.  As a result they suffer from osteoporosis.  These brittle bones prevent them from retiring to a farm in the country.  They simply would not survive.

Consequently it is these same conditions that make them hazardous for human consumption.  Their fragile bones splinter quite easily while being processed often making them a choking hazard even in a “boneless” form like a patty or nugget.  Also, one study shows spent hens are four times as likely to be contaminated with salmonella.  Children are very susceptible to salmonella poisoning.

So why does the USDA take such reckless chances with your child’s health?  Could it be because of this government organization’s unholy union with biotech and agribusiness giants like Monsanto and the Biotechnology Industry Organization?  Perhaps their indifference to human life has rubbed off on the USDA?  It would be hard not to conform, afterall much of the department’s leadership is made up of agribusiness moles.

Take Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a strong proponent for genetically modified corn (which has been proven to be the root cause of every e coli outbreak on record).  In 2001 he was awarded the title Governor of the Year by the aforementioned Biotechnology Industry Organization.  On January 21, 2009, Vilsack was appointed by President Barack Obama as the 30th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The fox guarding the proverbial hen-house.

For more on the issue I suggest reading the article by Blake Morrison, Peter Eisler and Anthony DeBarros for USA Today.

For more about the dangers of GM foods take a few hours to watch the movies The Future of Food and Food Inc.

Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.

December 10, 2009 at 1:47 am

FDA Retreats: Oysters Spared

Originally posted on Third Coast Cuisine on 11-14-9.

In a startling admission the FDA acknowledged that it did not thoroughly examine the issue of Vibrio vulnificus contamination from the consumption of raw oysters. In a November 13th press release by Meghan Scott, the FDA announced that it was rescinding its planned 2011 ban on raw Gulf oysters citing that, “It is clear to the FDA from our discussions to date that there is a need to further examine both the process and timing for large and small oyster harvesters to gain access to processing facilities or equivalent controls…” This reversal comes as Democrat and Republican politicians bombarded the FDA and President Obama’s office with complaints and evidence provided by experts on food safety like chefs, restaurateurs, fishermen and food writers.

The FDA had sought to ban raw oysters from the Third Coast (but not oysters from the East or West Coasts) because of 15 deaths annually attributed to Vibrio vulnificus infection. As it turns out the number of deaths was slightly lower than 15 a year and nearly all cases involved people with disease-weakened immune systems who had consumed raw oysters against doctor’s advice. According to U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, (D) of Bay St. Louis, MS the infection rate of Vibrio vulnificus is a paltry .00005%. Hardly the daunting threat the FDA had led people to believe.

Representative Taylor said in a strongly worded letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, “It does not make sense for the FDA to take on this new commitment.” And he was not the lone dissenting voice on Capitol Hill. Joining Representative Taylor in his contempt for the FDA’s policy was Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) who suggested that he might be inclined to cut future funding to the FDA if the issue were not rationally addressed.

Conspicuously absent from the FDA press release was the name Michael Taylor. Taylor is President Obama’s controversial appointment as an FDA consultant on food safety. It was he who first announced the ban on raw oysters from the Gulf region in a speech given last month in Manchester, N.H. The controversy over Mr. Taylor’s appointment arises from the fact that he has spent most of his professional career in the employment of agribusiness giant Monsanto, a corporation with a history in food safety that is dubious at best. Adding to the controversy is the fact that Mr. Taylor has no background in medicine or science but rather is a lawyer and career lobbyist.
Now that the imminent danger to jobs and livelihoods has been delayed the looming issue is why the FDA chose this crusade in the first place. The death of 15 people is nothing to take nonchalantly but in light of the other dangers under the FDA’s charge it seems peculiar. Approximately 873 children choke to death each year the majority on hot dogs, popcorn and candy but the FDA is not banning any of these items. 200 Americans die each year of e coli infections but the FDA has yet to address Monsanto’s genetically modified corn which has been proven as the source of every e coli incident on record.
The entire fiasco has left many wondering whether this was a “wag the dog” scenario crafted to distract the public’s attention from more pressing issues. Or could it be that the leadership of the FDA is really this incompetent?
Here is a list of other coverage of this story:
AP
LA Times
WAPT Jackson, MS

November 17, 2009 at 8:20 am

As if Katrina Wasn’t Bad Enough Now the FDA is Targeting the Gulf Coast

Originally posted at Third Coast Cuisine.

Just as Third Coast communities are beginning to recover from a series of storms that decimated towns from Corpus Christie to Tampa the FDA is now imposing policy that will potentially insure the demise of the Gulf Coast oyster industry. The industry has been a part of the region longer than there has been a United States of America. In an ethically questionable and scientifically unfounded decision the FDA is banning the sale of raw Gulf oysters effective 2011. The new law does not apply to oysters harvested on the East or West Coasts.

As nutritionists, food scientists and culinary writers have repeatedly pointed out the FDA (and their bungling partners the USDA and Department of Agriculture) rarely make public policy based on fact.  Michael Taylor, the President’s hand-picked senior adviser at the Food and Drug Administration, is at the point of this latest attack on the Gulf Region.  Taylor has spent most of the last 20 years going back and forth between the FDA and agribusiness giant Monsanto.  This is a gross conflict of interest but one that has existed now through four administrations.  Both Presidents Bush, President Clinton and now President Obama have appointed multiple Monsanto executives to policy making positions in all three government agencies responsible for regulating food safety.  The situation is referred to as the Monsanto/Government Revolving Door and it has been placing the public at risk since the 1970’s. 

The chief method for the post-harvest processing treatment of oysters is irradiation – exposure to low-dose gamma radiation. In 1993 the FDA approved food irradiation despite major health concerns. They ignored the fact that lab animals consuming irradiated foods experienced premature death, mutation, reproductive problems, tumors and suppressed immune function and that irradiation creates unique radiolytic products that cause cancer and birth defects in humans. There is also irrefutable evidence that irradiation destroys the nutritional benefits of the food exposed to it. Since the process was patented by Monsanto the company stands to reap a windfall from the new policy while the potential impact on the Gulf States’ economy is $500 million annually.

FDA/Monsanto spokesman Michael Taylor feels that the new regulations on raw Gulf oysters are necessary because nearly 15 people a year die from ingesting oysters contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus.  All victims have suffered from weak immune systems caused by various diseases like AIDS and diabetes.  According to Taylor these high-risk groups are just not heeding the warnings about raw oysters which contribute to the dozen or so annual deaths.  Consequently, Monsanto’s genetically modified corn process has been identified as the primary cause of every e coli outbreak on record, an average of 200 deaths a year just in the US.  Additionally, obesity kills 400,000 Americans each year and the chief culprit, high-fructose corn syrup, is another Monsanto invention. 

For more on the FDA’s ban on raw Gulf oysters you can read the AP article written by Cain Burdeau and Phillip Rawls by clicking HERE.

Photo courtesy of Wintzell’s Oyster House, Mobile, AL.

October 28, 2009 at 9:30 am

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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