Saturday, November 2


This time it wasn't on a Friday, but a Saturday (same diff, really) that another recall bombshell was dropped: Another supplier of turkey and chicken deli meat has issued a big recall - 200,000 pounds, or a hundred tons of meat - related to the big listeriosis outbreak in the Northeast. The timing of this is interesting especially in light of a class-action lawsuit expected Monday against Wampler - whose products you may have a hard time finding in the future, as they're using the venerable "duck and cover" strategy of changing their brand names (as though the Pilgrims Pride/Wampler thing wasn't tricky enough) in an attempt to shake off the growing stench of death. No wonder: Local stores report the recall is dragging down their sales of deli meat. Since Congress is once again jumping on the soapbox to ask "Hey, USDA, how come such a deadly fiasco has happened yet again?" the pressure is on to exonerate Wampler and quick, but let's be clear: Whether or not one of the seven (or ten, counting fetuses) dead was killed by Wampler products or not, the exact strain that killed those people was found at Wampler's plant. And what this, along with the new recall, all brings out is that there's so much listeria, i.e. feces, on so much poultry (and other meat as well, of course) that it's near impossible to nail down a single source - consider that the CDC, in this explainer, casually mentions that during the same time as the big outbreak of this particular strain, 81 other people in the area have fallen ill with different strains of listeriosis and 20 of them are now dead. The fact that the CDC considers this other statistic normal and everyday should tell you something about the safety of your average, non-recalled meat.


That's the headline a lot of papers went with on this Reuters story, and it gets across the mind boggling fact that as huge as the oceans are, they can't compete with the size of our appetite for animal flesh. For all of you who were opposed to factory farming and were just gonna switch to fish, don't you think you owe it to the poor developing world not to eat up all their fish?


You've probably heard this by now already, but just for the record, McDonald's France says you should keep kids from eating there more than once a week. McDonald's USA claims the French were mistaking the word "week" for the correct word, "minute."

Tuesday, October 29


The power of meat to destroy individual health is plain and clear. But a lot of American taxpayers are unaware that we're losing at least $128 million a year -- potentially up to $1 billion -- subsidizing cattle grazing on millions of acres of our land across the West. This is according to a new study released last week. Public lands ranching is a boutique industry, supplying less than 3% of the nations beef supply, a cute hobby for self-sufficient would-be cowboys. The notion that "in the rural West, whole towns and school systems depend on ranching," as put forward in the above article by a National Cattlemen's Beef Association flack, is handily debunked here. It's not just the money, though, and it's not just the animals - it's entire ecosystems that we're helping destroy, all without most people's knowledge. Business as usual!

Monday, October 28


And yet another USDA-rolls-over-for-the-meat-industry story that seems to raise no eyebrows, much less set off any alarms: Irradiated beef is headed for the School Lunch Program, at the behest of the American Meat Institute. So the USDA, after feeding our nation's children dangerous feces-laden meat, rather than stepping back, taking responsibility, looking at the big picture, instead uses this screw-up as a tacit excuse for another backscratching bailout - this time of the meat-irradiation folks - shoving even more food of dubious safety down our kids' throats! What with Consumer Reports testing burger safety and finding it woefully lacking (including in ways irradiation will not counter), it seems that the solution proposed by PCRM makes more sense - stop forcing schools to buy cruddy meat, fer chrissakes! Let kids experience something other than the heart-destroying Standard American Diet. After all, if the folks at Johns Hopkins get their way, we'll all be skipping meat at least 52 days a year. Doesn't sound like a bad idea... for a start.


It looks as though the Wampler/USDA PR strategy, which seemed so bizarre as it was unfolding, has worked - another Sunday seems to have come and gone without any real journalism being done on this incredible story of lying, mismanagement and collusion. No one seems to want to know how come the CDC said the strain of listeria tied Wampler to the fatal outbreak, while the USDA says no it didn't. No one calls them when they say "we never said it *wasn't* connected to the outbreak." Here's one more - while previous reports specified that Wampler workers were continuing to work during the closure, it now emerges that the company has laid off many of them, apparently starting with the non-English speakers among them - if this story can be believed...