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News for August 24, 2010

As egg producers consolidate, problems of just one company can be far-reaching

The largest egg recall in U.S. history comes at a point of great consolidation in the egg industry, when a shrinking number of companies produce most of the eggs found on grocery shelves and a defect in one operation can jeopardize a significant segment of the marketplace.

Just 192 large egg companies own about 95 percent of laying hens in this country, down from 2,500 in 1987, according to United Egg Producers, an industry group. Most of those producers are concentrated in five states: Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and California.

READ MORE (Washington Post) ]

FDA exploits salmonella eggs recall to pursue food sterilization agenda

It's always amusing to see how quickly consumers can be worked up into a false fear frenzy by health authorities. We saw it last year with the overhyped H1N1 swine flu scare which was fanned into a flaming fear fest by WHO advisors on the take from vaccine manufacturers. Now we're getting a new round of fear-mongering from many of the same sources who are warning us about salmonella contaminated eggs.

According to mainstream news sources, a massive 380-million-egg recall has been announced, and these eggs are all so incredibly dangerous that you have to immediately remove them from your refrigerator and take them back to the store where you bought them so that they can be properly destroyed. This is all backed up by phrases like, "It's not worth the risk," and claims that if people eat the eggs, they are taking "too much of a chance."

READ MORE (Natural News) ]

Egg Recall Drives Worried Customers to Farmers Markets

Jackie Dearing of Bloomington, Ill., sold all of her 50 dozen eggs at the local farmers market on Saturday, including carton after carton to new customers worried about a large and growing salmonella scare linked to millions of grocery store eggs.

"Almost everybody who came to our booth mentioned it," said Dearing, whose family runs Dearing Country Farms, a small-scale meat and poultry business. "Anytime something like this happens, people think a lot more about where their food comes from."

READ MORE (Common Dreams) ]

Lessons From the Egg Recall: Cheap Food Makes You Sick

Americans currently "enjoy" the cheapest animal protein in history. Such a monumental achievement could only have been attained through the industrialized mega-production of meat, milk and eggs -- which now cost about $1.56 on average for a large white dozen in the nation's supermarkets.

At just 13 cents apiece, even the poorest American can afford a two-egg omelet in the morning: It will set them back by less than four-percent of the Federal hourly minimum wage

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

9 Reasons to Beware Eggs

As hundreds of millions of eggs get recalled over salmonella fears, The Daily Beast talks to farmers and food activists about what went wrong—and finds 9 reasons to remain concerned from here on.

It's one of the country’s worst food-safety recalls, with more than 380 million eggs stripped from supermarket shelves in the last week over fears of salmonella poisoning. Yesterday the recall spread wider as a second Iowa farm announced it is calling back its products. The eggs are sold under such well-known brands as Farm Fresh, Hillandale, Lucerne, and Ralph’s, and over a thousand people have been sickened in California, Minnesota, Colorado, and elsewhere.

READ MORE (Healthy Beast) ]

Nationwide meat recall announced

Zemco Industries in Buffalo, New York, has recalled approximately 380,000 pounds of deli meat that may be contaminated with bacteria that can cause a potentially fatal disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

The products were distributed to Wal-Marts nationwide, according to the USDA's website.

READ MORE (CNN) ]

Mapping Slaughter Availability in U.S.

Meat and poultry products are important commodities within many local and regional food systems. The production of these products for local and regional markets is of course dependent on the availability of facilities that slaughter and process livestock and poultry. Media stories have recently documented the difficulties many small farmers and ranchers often face when searching for facilities to slaughter their animals for local markets; lack of a nearby slaughter facility or lengthy wait times for services are frequently cited problems. As a representative to the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), I have been working, along with representatives from other USDA agencies, on identifying where slaughter service availability might be lacking and then determining the best ways to help.

FSIS is the public health agency in USDA responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled. Our mission is regulatory and we don’t provide grants, loan guarantees or similar assistance as do many other USDA agencies. However, FSIS is committed to helping the nation’s small and local meat and poultry processors succeed in giving consumers access to a wider variety of safe and wholesome meat, poultry and egg products. We provide assistance in regard to regulatory matters to small and very small plants through outreach and through our Small Plant Help Desk. And, relevant to this USDA-wide project, we have much of the data needed to identify where slaughter facilities are and to determine their capacity.

READ MORE (USDA) ]

Yes to raw milk

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will hear a presentation on letting local dairymen sell raw milk products to Humboldt consumers on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. Citizens are requesting Ordinance 512.4 be rescinded. Please attend this meeting to show your support.

This ordinance does not stop anyone from consuming raw milk. The Public Health Department can do nothing about it. Anyone who owns a cow or is part owner can consume the milk from that animal under a legal contractual arrangement allowed in all 50 States. The disadvantage of a cow share program is the milk isn't inspected.

READ MORE (Times-Standard) ]

Dairy farmer's witness concedes problems while defending farm

A dairy consultant testifying on behalf of a Gibbon dairy farmer testified in court Friday that he believes "quality milk products and safe products can be produced on that farm."

Farmer Michael Hartmann is in the middle of a trial in Sibley County District Court, seeking to lift a state embargo on the sale of his products.

READ MORE (MPR) ]

First Eggs, Now Deli Meat. Is Anything Safe to Eat?

First, breakfast took a hit with the recent egg recalls. Now lunch suffers a blow. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Zemco Industries is recalling 380,000 pounds of deli meats due to a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. That's a whole lot of ham sandwiches.

According to a story on CNN.com, all of the recalled meats were distributed to Walmarts and used in the big box store's "Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches." These are prepared, packaged sandwiches, not boxed deli meats.

READ MORE (Change.org) ]

Math lessons for Budiansky: Industrial concentration vs. local choice

On Friday, New York Times op-ed contributor Steven Budiansky challenged local food advocates to rethink their math, mainly about food miles. As it happens, I was already doing some food calculations that day -- but not of the sort Budiansky discussed.

My numbers included the following: As of Friday, 450 million eggs originating from two Iowa egg operations -- both of which buy feed and chicks from the same company -- had been recalled from stores in 14 states for salmonella contamination. These days, record-breaking food recalls are happening with disturbing frequency. We won't soon forget the 2009 peanut recall that affected nearly 4,000 products; the 2008 recall of 143 million pounds of ground beef, the largest of its kind in history and which included beef distributed through the National School Lunch Program; or the 2006 recall of E. coli-contaminated bagged spinach that sickened hundreds in 26 states.

READ MORE (The Ethicurean) ]

Can Sustainable Food Feed the World?

Anytime a debate over organics or locavorism or eco-farming or GMOs springs up, naysayers inevitably claim that sustainable food can't "feed the world." They point to skyrocketing food needs thanks to a global population that's likely to reach 10 billion by 2050. Then they point to the increase in yields since industrial methods and genetically modified (GM) crops have been developed. The argument goes that in order to meet our future food needs, we need to utilize every tool at our disposal. Simply relying on outdated technologies will doom billions to starvation. It's an argument that sounds logical at first, but when you take a closer look, several flaws start to spring forth.

Firstly, do industrial methods and GM crops actually increase yields? A comprehensive report released in March of 2009 analyzed two decades of peer-reviewed research on GM crop yields, carefully isolating the effects of the introduced gene as opposed to other yield-boosters like breeding better plants the old-fashioned way through artificial selection. The report, titled Failure to Yield, concluded that GM crops have contributed little to nothing to the yield increases we've seen in recent decades.

READ MORE (Change.org) ]

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