“The fear is so deep-rooted that it goes beyond milk powder—food rumors about things such as plastic seaweed and seedless grapes cultivated with birth control medicines frequently send consumers into a tailspin.
There are at least three reasons for the failure to restore people’s confidence in domestic food, notes Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York.
“It’s very hard to have a strong sense of optimism.”
One is the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers in the 1980s (pdf, p.3), which has contaminated farmland, and could be transferred to cows that eat that grass. The government has only just started to tackle the problem, Huang said in an interview with Quartz. China also has a top-down regulatory method, which makes it hard for the public to engage with the process, particularly given the lack of press freedom, he says. There is also a general perception of a “moral decline” in China, where people try to make money by whatever means it takes, Huang adds, noting that sometimes even farmers themselves don’t eat what they grow (link in Chinese) for the market….”
Get the full story on Quartz (qz.com).
“Nothing about the CFIA would surprise me”, said Karen Selick, in a comment on a recent post on The Bovine. Well, here’s another case in point. Why should different, and higher, standards apply for meats being exported to Japan, than for meats sold to Canadians? Do Canadians not matter? Are Japanese export customers more important than Canadians? Is that what the CFIA was thinking? For those who might have wondered, when they read the story in the media a few months ago about the massive recall of meat from XL Foods in Brooks, Alberta, how such a thing could happen in a plant where 40 some CFIA inspectors are on the job, the memo described in the story below may be the answer. However, the report on this scandalous memo is not exactly as “out there” as the original recall story. Merely a few column inches on page 3 of today’s paper.
From the Toronto Star newspaper:
“Federal beef inspectors were told to ignore contamination on carcasses being processed for sale to Canadians at the XL Foods plant.
A memo from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) meat hygiene supervisor obtained by CTV News instructed CFIA inspectors to closely examine carcasses being processed for shipment to Japan, but to ignore visible contamination on meat for Canadians.
“Our number 1 priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan eligible carcasses,” said the memo. Continue reading
From David E. Gumpert on the Complete Patient blog:
“The fledgling Raw Milk Institute is in trouble.
The grandiose plan for a national organization that will at once establish raw milk production standards, educate farmers on improving their safety protocols, lobby for raw milk legislative expansion, and back research into raw milk’s benefits finds itself hobbled by internal dissension out of the gate.
I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to question whether the group can survive what has turned out to be a huge test of its purpose and objectivity. Continue reading
Jeremy Bloom from Red Green and Blue:
GMOs in the environment leads to a slippery slope for organic food quality. Simpsons pic via the Red Green Blue blog
“You must have seen this one coming.
When the USDA approved Monsanto’s gene-modified (GMO) alfalfa back in January, the Big Ag party line was that Organic producers had nothing to worry about. There was just not that much risk of contamination.
Now, barely two months later, stories like this one are being seeded in the mainstream media: “A Growing Debate: How To Define ‘Organic’ Food“ Continue reading
From David E. Gumpert at the Complete Patient blog:
[from a communique from “The Family Cow” raw milk farm in Pennsylvania, which does regular pathogen testing above and beyond government requirements] — “….”Just a few hrs ago, QC Laboratories, the laboratory we use for our voluntary, beyond-the-state-requirement pathogen testing, has reported the presence of Campylobacter in a sample of milk we sent them almost three weeks ago. I’ve spoken with state officials and they report there are no illnesses, but we still want you to know what we found. The milk in which the campylobacter was found was bottled on 1/10/11 and carries a ‘Best by’ date of 1/25. If you still have milk with this ‘Best by’ date, please discard it. Although, with milk that old, it’s probably long gone.
“There is no reason to believe that more than this date code of milk was effected, yet out of abundance of caution we are, as of today, voluntarily halting sales of raw milk from The Family Cow until we get a clear test. We are running two tests now on milk that was bottled since the positive sample. We will be in communication when we are ready to resume sales. We expect to have the test results back early next week. Sorry for the inconvenience, but we feel it would be remiss and irresponsible to continue to sell even though there have been no illnesses.” Continue reading
Scott Trautman and Michael Schmidt made a presentation at the Trautman Farm exploring individual raw milk safety and quality concepts.
Scott Trautman explains practical details of his quality raw milk program.
From David E. Gumpert at the Complete Patient blog:
“Why should we care about raw milk producers abiding by some set of quality and safety standards?
A number of people raised that question when I reported a few weeks ago that an ad hoc group of raw milk producers and consumers, headed by Tim Wightman of the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation, were involved in drafting quality and safety standards. The worry that seemed most prominent in the many comments was that any independent group or organization involved in setting and enforcing standards could very well be co-opted by government agencies.
I think the events out of California’s Humboldt County over the last few days can safely put those fears to rest. No government agency that I can think of would want to be associated with raw milk standards, now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which funds so many state public health and agriculture agencies, has sought to put the kabosh on standards. Continue reading
David E. Gumpert talks about raw milk standards in his latest post on The Complete Patient:
“…But connive to establish a set of standards for raw milk producers? I don’t think so. That’s why I had to chuckle at some of the comments by Barney Google and lola granola.
I appreciate their sincerity in arguing that this is such a touchy issue it requires secret planning–I just wish I had the conspiratorial power ascribed to me (and others) and, more important, that something significant was being accomplished.
As Mark McAfee correctly points out, nothing formal is anywhere near being accomplished on the standards-setting side. Just a bunch of informal emails with ideas and discussion. A lot of sincere people without much power, trying things out. Continue reading
From Doug Powell on Barfblog:
“The dean of Canadian food and farm reporting, Jim Romahn, has written a powerful piece about the continuing failures in Canadian meat inspection – failures that had to be pointed out by Americans.
More than a year after 21 people died after eating Maple Leaf Foods Inc. products contaminated with Listeria monocytoges, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was failing to enforce its own standards and there was sloppy follow-up when hazardous conditions were identified.
Those worrisome facts are contained in a report prepared by two U.S. inspectors who visited in the fall of 2009 to check Canada’s compliance with its own standards. They visited headquarters in Ottawa, 23 meat-processing plants and two labs. Continue reading