Digest: Farmed fish eating melamine, too, clone wars getting uglier, fruits & veggies may get Farm Bill love


Farmed fish latest to be fed contaminated feed: The FDA has revealed that farmed fish were also fed meal spiked with melamine, the industrial chemical linked to the ongoing recall of pet foods, though — surprise!— “the contamination level was probably too low to pose a danger to anyone who may have eaten the fish.” In another revelation that what processed food actual contains is anyone’s guess, it was revealed that the Canadian-made meal’s wheat gluten, a protein source, was actually wheat flour spiked by melamine and related, nitrogen-rich compounds, as was the rice protein concentrate implicated in the recall. (Houston Chronicle via AP)

It just gets worse: Cyanuric acid, the industrial chemical whose presence in contaminated pet food had been thought to be from the melamine scraps used to pump up the protein reading, turns out to also have been intentionally added to boost nitrogen readings. Chinese chemical producers said that it was common knowledge that for years cyanuric acid was used in animal and fish feed in China. In the United States, cyanuric acid is often used as a disinfectant in swimming pools. (New York Times) The Washington Post has a good science-y report on how these two “innocuous” compounds combined to kill pets.

Enjoy those nuggets: Millions of chickens and hogs that ate tainted pet food are declared safe for human use, based on the low concentrations of melamine remaining in the meat. No word as to how the FDA and the USDA determined assessed how that industrial chemical might interact with others that humans are routinely exposed to in their meat, or whether the also conducted trials to ascertain whether cyanuric acid, the latest chemical contaminant (see above), was also safe enough for Americans to eat. (Sacramento Bee)

Let them eat clones: Thousands of consumers have voiced their opposition to cloned foods. Scientists dismiss them as “Luddites.” We’ve said it before and we’ll say it until we’re blue in the face: What’s the rush? Who will benefit from this advancement? If cloning companies want to use the human food supply to conduct real-life testing of the long-term effects of eating food that has never existed before — although without a label, it can’t even be considered testing — then shouldn’t they at least explain how they built their risk-assesmment model, and which scientists from related professions were able to weigh in on it? (Business Week)

Oh, you’re so *special*-ty: “After years of derision and obscurity, the nation’s fruits and vegetables are finally getting the respect they deserve. Long dismissed as mere ‘specialty crops’ … fresh produce is now promoting itself in a major way and is positioned to be a big winner in this year’s legislative sweepstakes.” We’re not sure who’s been dissing veggies, but we hope they get some real dough, not just lip service, in the 2007 Farm Bill. (Washington Post)


A taste of change: Because of a quirk in state food laws, the milk produced by artisnal cheesemaker Holly Foster’s grass-fed Jersey and Holstein cows has to be shipped to Pennsylvania to be turned into cheese, then shipped back south to be sold. That’s because Maryland law prohibits the processing of unpasteurized milk, but Foster is pushing to change that by appealing to politicians’ taste buds. (The Daily Times, Md.)

Nestle, Niman, needs & nettles: Another Ethicurean-esque Good Food on KCRW that includes Marion Nestle on food safety, Nicolette Niman (of Niman Ranch) on animal feed, life on the food bank’s terms, and foraging for wild food in New York’s Central Park. (KCRW Good Food)

Have they tested it for nicotine?: A new study suggests that there’s something about fast-food burgers and fries, other than the often giant portion sizes, that encourages teens to gorge. In a study of 18 teenagers, researchers found that no matter how they served an extra-large fast-food meal — all at once, or in smaller portions spaced out over one hour — the teens devoured a similar number of calories. (Reuters)

The other labor crisis: Would-be top chefs face a challenge that most lawyers, engineers or nurses do not — few jobs in their chosen field pay enough for them to retire their student loans. (New York Times)

Clearing up mysteries about eating local: An interview with Barbara Kingsolver about her new book about eating locally offers one of the best explanations of locavorism that we’ve heard, and she even mentions the Farm Bill. Read the transcript; stream or download an MP3. (Living on Earth)

Google Earth gives researchers a new perspective on how avian flu is spreading around the world (Technology Review)

UPenn picks “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” as recommended reading for incoming first-year students (University of Pennsylvania)


Raw deal, historically: David Gumpert is reading “The Untold Story of Milk” by Ron Schmid, and passes on some interesting nuggets from it about how different the milk situation looks today than it did 100 years ago, when raw milk still held an esteemed place in the eyes of most experts for its health benefits and curative powers. (The Compete Patient)

Between the lines: Deconstructing an FDA press release about the contamination of animal feed by melamine, Spocko asks the questions that the press won’t be allowed to. (Spocko’s Brain)

Three plans: A summary of the three biggest Farm Bill proposals so far, those from Rep. Cardoza (D-CA), Rep. Kind (D-WI) and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT). Two of the sponsors indicate that a farm bill will not pass if it doesn’t have the support of lawmakers from urban districts and specialty crop states. (DTN Blogs)

Make it classy: Musings about The Silver Palate cookbook, wealth inequality and the grocery store. (Ezra Klein)

LAist calls for a “Gastronomic Revolution” in the next Farm Bill and through everyday choices. (LAist)

2 Responsesto “Digest: Farmed fish eating melamine, too, clone wars getting uglier, fruits & veggies may get Farm Bill love”

  1. deliberately says:

    Thanks for the link to the Kingsolver interview!

  2. Mark Powell says:

    Many so-called wild salmon are really produced in fish farms called hatcheries. Go to blogfish (link here) for the full story.