Friday, July 29


Let's just get the ledes on these, shall we?

  • 32 Dead as China's Pig-Disease Crisis Escalates: The official Xinhua News Agency reports thirty-two villagers have died so far in a southeastern province in China that has been hit by an outbreak of a pig-borne disease. According to the report, Sichuan Province has documented 163 cases of swine streptococcus suis, among them 112 confirmed cases and 51 suspected ones.

    UPDATE 8/1: "Sichuan authorities have ordered local journalists to stay away from locations where the disease has surfaced, and told newspapers to carry only stories as issued by the official New China News Agency." Well, that's a good sign, right?

  • Bird Flu Kills Two in Vietnam; Toll Now 60 The World Health Organization has repeatedly warned that avian influenza could mutate and become easily spread from person to person, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds.

  • Russia: Bird flu can infect humans Investigators have determined that a strain of bird flu virus infecting fowl in Russia is the type that can infect humans, the Agriculture Ministry has said. In a brief statement, the ministry identified the virus as avian flu type A H5N1. "That raises the need for undertaking quarantine measures of the widest scope," the statement said.


    FDA Finally Bans Use of Baytril in Poultry Margaret Mellon, director of food and environment at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the FDA's move was "a big deal. It's the first time FDA has withdrawn a veterinary drug on the basis of antibiotic resistance concerns, fearing that use of the drug in animals is going to erode the effectiveness of the drugs in human medicine."

    Great. Let's just hope it's not too late to do any good, and that the FDA follows up by banning other livestock antibiotics sooner rather than later.


    Not exactly a bombshell given that it's been clear to most observers for over a year, but the UN's cancer agency has put its official stamp on the fact that hormone replacement therapy, taken by millions of women around the world, causes cancer. The reports so far have neglected to mention that the chief form of this therapy is pregnant mare's urine.

    Thursday, July 28


    3,000 pounds of "Ready-To-Eat Chicken Products" that were distributed to Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have been recalled by the USDA due to potential listeria contamination. Anybody out there hear about this potentially deadly chicken before reading it here? Anybody?

    UPDATE 8/1: Expanded to 90,000 pounds.

    Wednesday, July 27


    I just posted this to MetaFilter, so I'll rerun the wording here:

    "I... Forgot."

    Upon the death of a possible BSE cow, "the unidentified doctor preserved the brain stem sample in formalin... but then 'simply forgot' about it until mid-July." That's the reason why we're only hearing about it now. Any questions?

    More to come on this, I'm sure...

    UPDATE 7/28: Here's a story that I only came across today, but which came out a few hours before the new "possible" Mad Cow was announced: Do regulators [USDA] protect market or consumers when it comes to releasing Mad Cow tests? asks the Houston Chronicle. Though no one seems to have pressed govt. spokespeople on the fantastically coincidental "Friday" effect, we do get an admission in this story that the USDA does routinely delay announcements of bad meat-related news - at least until the end of the day: "USDA spokeswoman Amy Spillman said the department makes announcements after markets close whenever an animal tests inconclusive." The issue, of course, is that the Texas agriculture department wants them to keep consumers in the dark about their own safety even longer. Don't mess with Texas!

    Tuesday, July 26


    This story I came across today provides an opportunity to say something I had been meaning to mention: Is it just me (i.e. Philadelphia) or are McDonald's ads radically changing? I've noticed that over the past year, the predominant color of McDonald's billboards and such has been... green. Not a color the beef-slinging fast-food chain has usually been associated with. This article says that it's part of a strenuous effort by the company to re-brand itself as a "healthy" eating choice. Good luck on that, Mickey. As long as you're still basing your menu around meat, you're just the same sad old whore who thinks the latest flashy negligee will suddenly make her attractive again.

    Monday, July 25


    What the heck is up with this? "Mysterious disease kills 17 in southwest China" says this Reuters story: "Authorities in southwest China are investigating a mysterious disease that has killed 17 farm workers and left 41 others ill after they handled sick or dead livestock, state media said on Monday." But local authorities and the WHO are pooh-poohing the concept that this could be bird- or swine-flu related. "The deaths were probably caused by a bacteria that spreads among pigs, the state-run China Daily quoted Zeng Huajin, a senior official with the Sichuan provincial health department, as saying." I sure wish I could trust the state-run China Daily any more than I trust the USDA...