Friday, April 11


The slump continues: "McDonald's Corp. reported lower same-store sales Thursday for a 13th consecutive month," CBS Marketwatch reports, calling it "a trend analysts expect to continue." Awwwwwwwwwww. You mean the company's much-ballyhooed WiFi access hasn't changed everybody's mind yet?


Heh. Next time someone starts a "veganism is unnatural" tirade and brings up those prehistoric meat-eaters, just say, "Yeah, we should be eating other humans, like they did! That would be more 'natural!'" After all, a BBC article quotes an expert's opinion that "widespread cannibalism among ancient humans" may be behind our species' general resistance to CJD. "Although some anthropologists believe that the argument for human cannibalism is not yet proven," the article continues, "evidence that it did happen includes human bones with human teeth marks on them, and fossilised human faeces which includes human proteins." It always comes back to the feces, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 10


STERN PUBLIC FACE Standing firm at a Meat Safety conference and essentially declaring War on E. Coli yet again, the agency said federal inspectors have started regularly taking meat samples from all meatpacking plants, not just those that lacked testing programs.

TYRANNICAL PRIVATE FACE Meanwhile, when those inspectors do anything about non-compliant plants they're likely to be retaliated against and suspended by the USDA, as were two federal meat inspectors in the New York area - they were suspended for reporting possible misconduct by other inspectors, according to a ruling by an administrative judge made public yesterday.

As the New York Times notes, "Inspectors in California and Arkansas have made similar claims of harsh treatment." And "an inspector in Pennsylvania said in December that safety officials had brushed aside his concerns about a plant linked to an outbreak of food-poisoning by the listeria bacteria that killed eight people.
(FRIDAY AFTERNOON ALERT: Explain this one to me, will you? "Judge Ruggiero issued the decision on Tuesday, but it was not made public until [Friday]." Uh..........huh.)

BACKSLAPPING CRONY FACE Topping off all of last year's drought-connected bailouts for livestock producers, the agency announced "Additional Livestock Assistance" to many states, in the form of "surplus USDA stocks of non-fat dry milk." Oh, good. So the USDA finally found a way to get rid of all that "nonfat milk powder that it bought over the past three years to prop up the prices paid to dairy farmers." Am I really the only one who connects these dots?
P.M. UPDATE 4/10: No, I'm not the only one, apparently. So howcum this bit of info wasn't in any of the other sources I had found?

Wednesday, April 9


Here's an interesting British legal action that looks destined to go the way of the first McDonalds lawsuit - being tarred "frivolous" and losing the verdict but winning great changes from the company in the long run, both legally and socioeconomically. The Independent reports that the legality of 'broiler' chicken farming is being challenged over there: "Compassion in World Farming lodged papers in the High Court this week [asking] the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ban fast-growing broiler chickens, which make up the majority of the market." The charity cited "leg deformities and heart failure" in the chickens as forms of (banned) cruelty.


The Center for Science in the Public Interest is all bent out of shape about Laura’s Lean Beef, which apparently has been voluntarily labeling its meat to give fraudulent nutritional info - namely, carrying three or four times the amount of saturated fat as claimed. Worse, many cuts have the American Heart Association’s "heart-check" logo even though the product may have three times the amount allowed by AHA guidelines. Well, this is funny, but not in the least surprising - hello, you expected a) BEEF to be HEALTHY, and b) MEAT producers to tell consumers the TRUTH? What reality is CSPI living in? I wondered why they concentrated all their energy on "Laura's Lean," until the last sentence, where it's explained that Laura's steaks are at least "leaner than the average supermarket steaks." So, in other words, this is the best-case scenario.

Tuesday, April 8


In case you've been on Mars without a working satellite dish, you'll remember Gary Taubes's "Big Fat Lie" article in The New York Times Magazine last summer, as everybody's been talking about it. Taubes's thesis - if that word can be applied to a screed of "Atkins was right, you were wrong" - was that the Atkins diet made people lose weight not because they were consuming less calories, but because of some magico-mystical process he tagged "endocrinology 101," whereby increasing fat intake proportionate to carb intake simply melted the pounds away. (That Taubes was forced to misrepresent, misquote or utterly ignore many of his own sources and most of the relevant data is a side issue here.) Well, a team of doctors from Stanford and Yale begs to differ, after analyzing more than 100 diet studies involving more than 3,000 people. Turns out that "any weight loss achieved on a low-carb diet comes from consuming fewer calories, the crucial factor in a standard weight-loss diet. Carbohydrate restriction had nothing to do with it." Don't worry, I'm sure it won't impact Taubes's book deal - he'll just have to move on to the even-more-mysterious "endocrinology 102."