Daily Archives: September 23, 2008

“What do you mean by pasteurized?”

When Shirley-Anne Wood asked that question of York Region cousel Dan Kusmyk at Michael Schmidt’s trial September 10th, it looked like she was being difficult. But of course, as we can learn from reading Michael Schmidt’s motion to dismiss charges, interpretations of the law often hinge on exact definitions of words. And as we might have learned from George Orwell, social control (or marketing, as it is often labelled these days) also has a lot to do with twisting or obfuscating the meanings of words.

So, with all that in mind, it’s fascinating to see a recent USA Today story from Associated Press to the effect that some irradiated products will be labeled “pasteurized”.  Here are some excerpts from that story:

FDA proposes softening irradiated food labels

“WASHINGTON (AP) — The government proposed Tuesday relaxing its rules on labeling of irradiated foods and suggested it may allow some products zapped with radiation to be called “pasteurized….”

“… The technique kills bacteria but does not cause food to become radioactive. Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness have revived interest in irradiation, even though it is not suitable for all food products. For example, irradiating diced Roma tomatoes makes them mushy, the FDA says.

The FDA also proposed letting companies use the term “pasteurized” to describe irradiated foods. To do so, they would have to show the FDA that the radiation kills germs as well as the pasteurization process does. Pasteurization typically involves heating a product to a high temperature and then cooling it rapidly…”

Read the whole story here


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Remembering the Bad Old Days

GlobeandMail.com is following up on the Michael Schmidt contempt of court trial coverage with a piece from Jane Jenkins in New Brunswick expanding on the ideas touched on in a recent editorial in the Sackville Times. Do New Brunswickers think alike? Or do they read the Sackville Times?

Read the full Globe and Mail.com story here. Excerpts below:

“Have Canadian consumers lost their minds? At a time of heightened anxiety about deli meats contaminated with the deadly listeria bacterium, it boggles the imagination to think of people actively seeking out raw milk to drink. But that’s exactly what’s been happening at Michael Schmidt’s organic farm in Southwestern Ontario.

Editor’s comment: what’s the matter with those people? Why can’t they get with the emotional plague of the times? Why aren’t they hysterically demanding that the government DO SOMETHING to make our food “safer”, like irradiating everything in sight.

“What is so striking about this rhetoric is how astonishingly similar it is to criticisms hurled at early 20th-century public health officials as they pushed for mandatory pasteurization in Canada. Their vision was to improve public health by reducing the incidence of a host of milk-borne diseases, such as bovine tuberculosis, scarlet fever, brucellosis and diphtheria, which are especially dangerous to infants and young children. New Brunswick’s infant mortality rates in the early 1920s were the highest in Canada; for every 1,000 babies born, a staggering 150 would die before their second birthdays. Babies in the rest of the country didn’t fare much better. Blamed were dairy cows with bovine tuberculosis and unsanitary milk, so teeming with deadly bacteria it was often called white poison.”

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