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13-05-13 Metal Shards and Much Worse in Your Food: What Happens When the Food Industry Regulates Itself

13-05-13 Metal Shards and Much Worse in Your Food: What Happens When the Food Industry Regulates Itself

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Published by William J Greenberg
Industry "self-regulation" means our foods are increasingly doused in bacteria-killing chemicals
Industry "self-regulation" means our foods are increasingly doused in bacteria-killing chemicals

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Published by: William J Greenberg on May 21, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Home> Metal Shards and Much Worse In Your Food? What Happens When the Food Industry RegulatesItself 
Metal Shards and Much Worse In Your Food? What Happens When the FoodIndustry Regulates Itself 
May 13, 2013
|Was Jose Navarro, a federal poultry inspector who died two years ago at theage of 37, avictim of increasingly noxious 
chemicals used in poultry andmeat production? Chemicals like ammonia, chlorine and peracetic acid thatare frequently employed to kill aggressive bacteria in meat and poultry?Navarro coughed up blood several months before his death, the
reported last week, and he died in November 2011 of lung and kidneyfailure, according to the autopsy report. An OSHA inspector during asubsequent investigation said “the combination of disinfectants and other chemicals” in addition to pathogens such as salmonella “could be causingsignificant health problems for processing-plant occupants,” reports the
.The plant where Navarro worked and the chicken industry defend thechemicals as safe.It is no secret that new methods are being used in the war against bacteriabecause of the antibiotic resistance the meat industry's widespread relianceon antibiotics has helped cause. Antibiotics save money for livestockoperations in two ways: they keep the animals alive in filthy, packedconditions in which they might otherwise die; and they make animals gainweight with less food because of their metabolic effects.Despite the routine use of antibiotics in livestock operations, bacteria andresistant bacteria are rampant in the food supply. Almost half of US beef,
chicken, pork and turkey contained staph bacteria when they were tested,reported theLos Angeles Times 
in 2011--including the resistant MRSAbacterium (methicillin-resistant S. aureus). Two serious strains of antibiotic-resistant salmonella, Salmonella Heidelberg and Salmonella Hadar, forcedrecalls in recent years of turkey products fromJennie-O Turkey
The resistant salmonella strains were so deadly, officials warnedthat disposed meat should be placed in sealed garbage cans toprotectwildlife 
.But there is another reason that stronger and more volatile chemicals arebeing used. The federal government is increasingly washing its hands, punintended, of slaughterhouse inspection and encouraging industry "self-regulation," which is cheaper for both sides. Thanks to the new era of foodindustry laissez-faire, assembly lines are moving even more quickly--if that'spossible--and more aggressive chemicals are being employed. "PinkSlime"treated with puffs of ammonia 
to kill E. coli, was only one example of extreme chemicals routinely used to kill germs, often under the public's radar.There is also an ongoingbattle between US trade officials
and theEuropean Union and Russia over US poultry because it is dipped in chlorinebleach to kill germs. Who knew? And conventional US poultry is often grownon feed that contains arsenic, which theFDA says is used 
to controlparasites, promote weight gain and feed efficiency and improve“pigmentation”. In 2011, Pfizer announced it would stop selling arsenic-treatedchicken feed after the FDA found residues in chicken livers and most peopleassumed the substance had been retired from poultry farms. Guessagain.Histostat, or nitarsone, 
another arsenic-based feed additive, is stillon the market, reports the
New York Times
Inspectors Add Their Voices To Agribusiness Critics
Over the years, reports about the deleterious effects of self-regulatingagribusinesses on animals, workers, the environment and consumers who eatthe products have made headlines. But increasingly, federal meat inspectorsare speaking out about the broken system.“My plant in Pennsylvania processed 1,800 cows a day, 220 per hour,” andveterinarians were pressured “to look the other way” when violationshappened," Lester Friedlander, a federal meat inspector told theWinnipegFree Press 
. The reason? Stopping "the line" cost the plant about $5,000 aminute. Friedlander was a USDA veterinarian for 10 years and trained other federal veterinarians.
When mad cow disease was first a US threat in 1991, Friedlander says aUSDA official told him not to say anything if he ever discovered a case andsaid he knew of cows who had tested positive at private laboratories but wereruled negative by the USDA. Friedlander toldUnited Press International 
 that the USDA attempted to force him out after he alleged, on national TV,that meat from downer cows supplied the national school lunch program. Hischarge proved true, and led to thebiggest meat recall 
in US history.National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, the union that representsmeat and poultry inspectors in federally regulated slaughterhouses, alsospoke out about mad cow disease risks.In a letter to the USDA in 2004, 
 the union said that cattle parts that could give humans the disease were“being allowed into the production chain.” Heads and carcasses of cattle over 30 months old sailed through slaughter and processing lines, said the whistle-blowing inspectors. “We couldn’t determine that every part out of there wasfrom a cow under 30 months,” said Stan Painter, the union’s chairman, toMSNBC. “There was no way to determine which one was which.” Inspectorswere “told not to intervene” when kidneys from older animals were sent downthe line to be packed for the Mexican market, which prohibited cows over 30months, the union charged. Cows younger than 30 months were consideredto pose less mad cow disease risk to humans.Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors in the Department of  Agriculture have traditionally been responsible for a plant’s compliance withthe Federal Meat Inspection Act (or Poultry Products Inspection Act or theEgg Products Inspection Acts) and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act butthe balance of power is switching to self-regulation. A turning point was theimplementation of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)inspection system in 2000 which replaced inspectors' visual examination of carcasses with inspectors simply ratifying that companies are following their own self-created systems--as in "trust me."The HACCP system wasdeveloped by former Monsanto 
lobbyist MichaelTaylor, which is no surprise in light of his pro-industry initiatives while workingat the government. Taylor facilitated the approval of unlabeled GMO cropsand recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), both spearheaded byMonsanto, and has even lobbied against the Delaney Clause, which prohibitscancer-causing chemicals in food.Food activists, animal activists, consumers and even industry insiders calledHACCP "Have a Cup of Coffee and Pray" and an unvarnished a gift toindustry. It's a “politically based policy masquerading as a science-based

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