Friday, March 21


A new study from Sweden has found that a vegan diet fights arthritis and heart disease - but the rub is, in this case it's a gluten-free vegan diet. So no seitan.

Of course the fact that they chose to try a gluten-free vegan diet against conventional diets doesn't mean that only gluten-free will work; mored studies should be done. Meanwhile, we do know:

"The study, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, found the diet raised the levels of natural antibodies that fight the damaging compounds -- phosphorylcholine -- that cause the chronic inflammatory symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The diet also protected against heart attacks and stroke by lowering cholesterol levels and lowering body weight, the study said.

In contrast, none of the indicators differed significantly for the control group on the conventional healthy diet, the study said."

Wednesday, March 19


Sorry, it just occurred to me to check what the USDA was up to last Friday while we were all chatting about Steve Mendell's testimony. You're not going to believe this, but there was yet another Friday recall of 943,000 pounds of poultry with bad giblets. The press release doesn't try very hard to clarify what makes some giblets dangerous and others not, but it does say they're "adulterated" by apparently unwelcome portions of chickens' innards, and it is a CLASS I (HEALTH RISK: HIGH) recall. Too bad no one heard about it, huh?

Tuesday, March 18


Consumer demand for U.S. ground beef could fall if circumstances that lead to the recall of a record 143 million lbs of meat in February happen again, a top U.S. Agriculture Department official said on Monday. "The industry is right now fighting an image problem with the American consumer," Richard Raymond, the agriculture undersecretary who oversees USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said during the Reuters Food Summit. "We have to make certain what happens with Hallmark never happens again. Another hit like that and I'm afraid you see consumption of ground beef going into a tailspin."

Guess that's why the USDA isn't investigating whether other plants are violating the rules as badly as the randomly-picked Westland/Hallmark, huh? Don't look, don't find, as Michael Hansen says.

And for the record, that "isolated incident" has plenty of company in the more immediately dangerous world of foodborne illness: "The meat industry was hit hard in 2007. A series of large recalls, attributed mostly to E. coli O157:H7, prompted USDA to expand testing and recall infected meat more rapidly to combat the pathogen. The department said 21 recalls related to E. coli in meat occurred, compared with just eight in 2006."

Monday, March 17


"The operations manager at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. knew about cruelty and food safety violations at the Chino plant and, in at least one case, he ordered it, an ex-employee said in an interview from jail. Stan Mendell, the brother of company president Steven Mendell, once instructed workers to lift a fallen bull to its feet with a forklift so it could be slaughtered, said former worker Rafael Sanchez Herrera, who has been charged with animal cruelty."

The whole article, from the Press-Enterprise, which continues to own this story with ongoing exhaustive reporting, is worth a read. Here's the lead anecdote, spelled out: "Sanchez said he remembers Stan Mendell stopping at the pens leading to the slaughterhouse one afternoon last August or September before getting in his nearby car to go home. A bull with an injured foot had collapsed. Mendell ordered Ugarte, who in turn ordered Sanchez, to lift the fallen animal to its feet using a forklift, Sanchez said. 'It was Stanley that told us to do it,' Sanchez said, adding: 'Stanley watched.'"

In short: "Sanchez said he does not know if Steven Mendell was aware of abuse of collapsed cows. But Stan Mendell knew, he said." Well, it's a good question how much Steve Mendell knew. But given the two of them were brothers, it stretches credulity to belive the CEO was as shocked as he professed in his infamous hearing.

UPDATE 3/21: "How well do owners know their meat companies?" asks the Capital Press. And: "Why would [Mendell] have agreed to a voluntary massive recall he knew he would destroy his company if he hadn't seen all the evidence and thought it wasn't a safety problem?"

Sunday, March 16


Good news / Bad News: "Now trollers are expecting the worst bulletin they’ve ever received: the largest salmon fishing closure from northern Oregon to Mexico in the history of the industry - zero commercial trips in 2008, with a few minor exceptions." That's the good news, unless you're someone who has decided to base his livelihood around killing fish. The bad news is that it's because there are hardly any fish left. "Forecasted returns of chinook salmon on California’s Sacramento River are so dismal that there’s little hope regulators will allow a fishing season for West Coast boats - a prospect that will hit the Oregon Coast hard, as salmon is one of the only viable fisheries during the summer months.

One Fisherman says, "In my opinion, we won’t have a commercial fishing season. It’s a dire situation." Yep, sure is, though not as dire as it is for the fish that are caught. Maybe it's time to look for a different job.