Digest: Faith-based FDA, Chron raises food consciousness, more

Brace yourselves, it’s link-overload Wednesday!

Faith & Drugs Administration: The Center for Food Safety has blasted the FDA’s risk assessment of the safety of food from cloned animals because it used data that was “selectively reported to fit predetermined conclusions” and relied heavily on unpublished data from two cloning companies. “Any safety conclusions are based more on faith than science,” the report says. Snap! (Washington Post via Reuters) The CFS website has a PDF of the report’s executive summary, as well as a handy link for telling the FDA whether you approve of allowing unlabeled meat and dairy from clones into the food supply. Remember: No labels means no traceability — and thus no liability for cloning technology suppliers. The comment period ends April 2.

Chronicle goes Ethicurean: The San Francisco Chronicle’s Carol Ness announces an ongoing new feature, Food Conscious, that will offer “stories every few weeks [that] will aim to feed Northern Californians’ growing demand for reliable information about what they eat and drink….If choices are all about transparency, we want to visit the ranches and farms for people who don’t have the time. We also want to try to cut through rampant obfuscation and misinformation about food, much of it generated by the food industry, marketers, advertisers and the government.” Awesome! San Francisco Chronicle

Bravo for H2O: The Chronicle reports on how Chez Panisse, following the lead of other sustainability-minded Bay Area restaurants, has phased out bottled water. San Francisco Chronicle

Pet-food plague update: The 9 animals that died in Menu Foods’ tests were part of a routine tasting trial, not a tainted-food test. The FDA, which doesn’t routinely inspect pet food factories, had no answers as to why the company waited nearly a month after complaints began arriving before recalling the pet foods and contacting government officials. Post-Gazette

Quick! Before anyone ethical notices!: The EPA wants to amend the Superfund law to let livestock producers off the hook as polluters before Bush leaves office. Des Moines RegisterHere’s why this is a bad idea, in case you missed it.

But that’s not pollution, no sir: The North Carolina legislature is considering whether to extend a ban on new hog-manure lagoons. State pig farms currently dump 13 million pounds of waste a day into the open-air pits. Pig Progress

Poultry hero: The UK grocery chain Sainsbury’s is phasing out eggs from battery hens. The company’s policy will effectively remove some 600,000 hens from cages over the next four years. Daily Mail (via Wannaveg.com)

The price of farm-animal freedom: Under pressure from consumers to do away with inhumane practices such as sow crates, battery cages, and veal tethers, farmers are developing new technology and practices that allow them to raise animals in group housing without letting the herds’ weaker members get shafted. Philadelphia Inquirer

Fish diet: The farmed vs. wild salmon is heating up in Scotland, where wild fish stocks are not only dropping in number, but in average size. Meanwhile “organic” farmed salmon allows same lice-dousing chemicals as regular farmed fish. UPI

Cap’n'trade: A proposed piece of Farm Bill legislation would place a $250,000 ceiling on the amount of farm payments an individual can receive; the savings would be used for renewable energy and conservation funding. (FarmFutures) IndyBay has more, including why Californians should urge their senators to support the bill.

The Barbecuean’s Dilemma: Are you a realist or an elitist about food? Culinate

OK, but who pays the bills?: A new group called The Center for Food Integrity is forming. We’re all for the concept, but with members like the National Chicken Council, National Council of Chain Restaurants, and the United Egg Producers, forgive us for being a little, ahem, skeptical about he “integrity” part. Brownfield

That’s a lot of cow farts: A study by a Swiss environmental ratings agency says Tyson Foods produces nearly as much greenhouse gas emissions as a major car manufacturer. terra Daily

Old food, new labels: As part of the movement to know and show where food comes from, rural advocates and food activists are forming the Association of Family Farms (AFF). They’ll create an AFF seal to indicate environmental stewardship; social standards, such as fair treatment of farm workers; and fair business practices. Alternet

Call the Food Rescue Squad!: An interview with Monica Luoma of Forgotten Harvest, which collects perishable food that stores can’t sell and delivers it to food banks, emergency kitchens, and other anti-hunger programs. MetroTimes (Detroit)

Weekend farmers: More people around the country are buying vacation homes with working vineyards, orchards, or cattle ranches attached. New York Times

Where the capybara roam: In Venezuela, rodents the size of labradors are a delicacy. Salted capybara, the rodent in question, apparently tastes like a mixture of sardines and pork. They do have some unusual habits, like eating their own feces. New York Times

Instead of eating rodents, eat with them: Reporter Becca Tucker lives on dumpster-diving in Manhattan for three days with the “freegans.” Fascinating. Alternet

EPA promises new rules to clarify CERCLA/EPRA (Brownfield)

FDA favors self-policing at Oakland hearing on food safety (San Mateo County Times)

German authorities are concerned that genetically modified fluorescent fish (GloFish from the U.S.) are being smuggled in (Der Spiegel)

Mark Morford rants amusingly about KFC seeking the pope’s blessing for its fish sandwich (SFGate)

Farmers are using a new chemical repellent to discourage cranes from eating their corn (Oshkosh Northwester)

2 Responsesto “Digest: Faith-based FDA, Chron raises food consciousness, more”

  1. Regarding the pet food recall, I’m curious, since only one manufacturer is implicated but the recall touches over 90 brands, does this mean that all these brands, whether private label or major brand name, are selling the exact same pet food but at different price points? Or is it that there are 90+ formulas (one for each brand) that happen to all contain the ingredient(s) thought to be causing the problem?

  2. Carrie, I think it’s the latter. Menu Foods is a manufacturer that makes food for many different brands. Pet food companies bring their recipes to them, and they makes batches of each according to formula, which are then sold under the various companies’ brand names. They’re not all the ‘exact same pet food’, but their ingredients will be coming from the same sources. (If two people order custom cakes from the same bakery, they’ll get different cakes made from the same ingredients.)

    The different price points are going to be partly due to the formulations (for example, a brand that has a higher ratio of meat to wheat will likely be more expensive to make, because the ingredients cost more), and, as with people food, there will be ‘just because we can’ markups that have more to do with marketing and branding than actual content.