Friday, August 5


"Faster, faster, get that product out the door!" is the industry byword. The results are cuts, amputations, skin disease, permanent arm and shoulder damage, and even death from the force of repeated hard cutting motions. When injured employees seek workers' compensation claims for their juries, they are told, "You got hurt at home, not on the job."

Sound familiar? Yes, of course, it's meatpacking, the most dangerous factory job in America, which once again has caused hand-wringing among the pundit class because workers are treated so terribly. Never mind how animals are treated - for some reason that's an unexamined given, but the abuse of people is a separate, newsworthy phenomenon. "The meatpacking industry has shown little inclination to respect its workers' rights on its own. Congress and the Bush administration should take decisive steps to protect the lives and well-being of these men and women. But they are unlikely to act until consumers demand meat that is not tainted by workers' blood, sweat and fear."

Uh, yeah. And how soon are consumers gonna demand that? Probably right around when they demand food that's not tainted by animals' blood, sweat and fear - which is to say, never, unless a great many people in this country suddenly wake up. Does this writer for Human Rights Watch really not get the fact that Americans refuse to think about how "meat" got from being an animal to being on their fork? Does this writer really not grasp that it's exactly that strained, desperate apathy among the public that enables meat companies to get away with the worst human-rights abuses of any top-tier industry? Cruelty begets cruelty, folks. Secrecy begets ignorance. An honest, transparent, fair system for those whose job is to needlessly kill sentient beings is as likely as a war without death. Ain't gonna happen.

Thursday, August 4


An air-vent problem at one animal-testing lab has pointed to a disturbing problem with the industry as a whole. More than 500 mice died horrible suffocating deaths when a ventilator failed in 90-degree heat. Unless told otherwise, we can assume some if not most of these mice were current test subjects, meaning those tests are now ruined, meaning many more mice will have suffered and died for absolutely nothing. "Unfortunately, they had to be sacrificed," said the Wyeth spokesman. Yep, sacrificed to your company's incompetence. Sacrificed to your apathy. Note that Wyeth didn't even admit to the fiasco until asked by a reporter, tipped off by animal rights activists.

But the bigger news is in this shrug-it-off quote from the "private laboratory accreditation group" that's supposed to be monitoring conditions in animal-test labs: "I would not say this kind of thing happens frequently, but it does happen," said John H. Miller. Oh, does it? "He declined to disclose other cases, citing confidentiality agreements with member labs, but did say Wyeth's reported number of deaths was not unusual." Oh really? So 500 animals needlessly dying from simple human errors is common in this industry - as is, obviously the lack of true concern or accountability among the people responsible. Apparently the only unusual thing here is the public finding out about it. Shameful.

Tuesday, August 2


Well, as "consumers have tired of the once-sizzling fad", the Crash Diet That Didn't Work files for bankruptcy, stiffing its creditors just as it did nutritionally to its own bandwagon-jumping acolytes. Partly this is because "the low-carb trend has sort of died on the vine," or more accurately, decayed off the bone, yet I do wonder how much the Atkins-smashing Carbophobia!, which appeared early this year, helped that process along.

But by pressing ahead as a run-of-the-mill shake and power bar company, Atkins first of all exposes itself to continued legal/market trouble, as PCRM vows to press their lawsuit forcing Atkins to put warning labels on its products, but it also loses the one thing even critics like PCRM and Dr. Greger conceded Atkins was right about: The importance of consuming whole, natural foods rather than processed foods. Well, OK, good luck selling your processed foods line, folks - at least you still have that iconic scarlet "A" to work with.

Monday, August 1


Heyyy, remember this post last week about the 15-state recall nobody heard about? You know, with the chicken products and listeria? Well, just like I bet they had slipped that one by you, I'll also wager you didn't get notice that the size of the recall was just expanded by three thousand percent - now not 3 but 90,000 pounds of potentially contaminated chicken.

Look: Every time a recall is expanded it means something went wrong in the recall process. If the 90,000 pounds are all suspect right now, they were all equally suspect back when the recall was issued at only 3,000 pounds. So the initial recall, if handled properly, should have been a 90,000-pound recall. Yet this kind of thing is far from rare with meat recalls. Who keeps screwing up and endangering lives? Why is that not explained - why does there seem to be no public accountability when this happens again?

Could it be because it's all part of a planned strategy? So far this one seems to be following the 2003 Pilgrims Pride recall playbook, if on a slightly smaller scale. Are these expansions a pattern of incompetence, or a savvy way of playing the "public safety" media for credulous chumps? After all, this announcement of 90,000 pounds of dangerous meat isn't a MEAT RECALL - it's just an EXPANSION of a previously-announced recall, which is hardly a big story. I mean, come on. It's old news. Move on, right?