Posts tagged ‘E. coli’

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

Vilsack/USDA Fail Again With Questionable Beef Processing

Great article from the New York Times’ Michael Moss exposing more USDA incompetence, this time with regards to the unsafe beef served in school cafeterias and fast food chains (yeah, I know.  Who’da thunk it?).  Apparently Tom Vilsack and crew have been so happy with the quality of processed beef that haven’t bothered to check it for e coli or salmonella.  Fortunately, others have.  Read what the government has been feeding your children.

Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.

The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.

With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

In July, school lunch officials temporarily banned their hamburger makers from using meat from a Beef Products facility in Kansas because of salmonella — the third suspension in three years, records show. Yet the facility remained approved by the U.S.D.A. for other customers.

There’s more.  Click HERE to read it.

January 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

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

Farm-to-fork Threatening National Grocery Chains

It appears that sustainable foods do not equal sustainable profits, at least not for big time grocery chains like Walmart and Safeway.  As more and more people learn of the dangers of the pseudo-foods peddled at America’s mega marts the more they are shopping at farmer’s markets.  There they find produce that is farmed not manufactured.

Surely the farm-to-fork movement is not so large that it could actually be putting a bite in the bottom line of industrial grocers?  Only hippies shop at farmer’s markets, right?  It would seem not.  Recently Kelly Barron penned a humorous piece of fiction for SmartMoney.com (part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network) suggesting hidden dangers from local produce.

In 10 Things Your Farmer’s Market Won’t Tell You, Barron spins a yarn of nefarious conduct by America’s organic farmers that results in produce riddled with hazards.  To prove her point she cites an E-coli outbreak in August of 2002 where 82 people got sick from contamination.  It remains the largest E-coli outbreak in California history.  It also did not happen at a farmer’s market or organic grocery.  It happened at a sheep and goat exhibit.  No food borne illness was part of this outbreak but Barron chose to represent the incident as if it were commonplace with local produce.

This is not totally Barron’s fault.  She is not an expert on horticulture, nutrition nor is she a chef.  She is a journalist who was likely given the assignment.  She might even think that a goat exhibit and a fruit stand are the same thing.  Who knows?

Propaganda like this can only mean one thing, more people are shunning the Frankenfood for the real thing.  That is a good sign.  There is hope for the future, after all ADD, Celiac Disease and dozens of other conditions are the result of genetically engineered food like that sold at large grocers.

So why would someone write an article blatantly fabricating facts such as this?  To serve an agenda.  There was a time when we would have thought the media beyond such conduct but as Dan Rather and CBS News showed us they are not above inventing news if it furthers their agenda.  WSJ is a fine publication but they do run with the big dogs of industry and Walmart is about as big as they get.  Sometimes you have to scratch a back now and then.  Oh yeah, and money talks, too.

So go ahead and read every word of Barron’s tall tale.  When you are finished read the rebuttal from an actual expert, Rob Smart.  Then judge for yourself.

May 6, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Whole Foods Beef Recall

 

From Nidhi Sharma – AHN News Writer

Omaha, NE (AHN) – Whole Foods Market has announced a voluntary beef recall Friday because of concerns the meat might be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. The beef was sold between June 2 and Aug. 6 and was processed at Nebraska Beef plant, said a company spokesperson.

Health authorities have confirmed seven cases of E. coli infection linked to ground beef, all involving people who bought beef from Whole Foods. Five of those people have been hospitalized.

In a statement on its Web site, Whole Foods says the beef apparently came from Coleman Natural Beef, whose Nebraska Beef plant was previously linked to a national recall. The recalled beef might have been sold at Whole Foods Market stores in Nebraska. Neither Coleman Natural Beef or Nebraska Beef are owned or operated by Whole Foods Market.

Illnesses from the meat have been reported by people in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The company said the recall covers 25 states, as well as Washington D.C. and Canada.

The states where beef is recalled include Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D. C., Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Canada.

August 9, 2008 at 8:28 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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