Digest: Mo’ melamine woes, food safety offenders, Obama to target subsidies

Want some formica in your formula?: We thought we’d seen the worst of the FDA’s screwups with this Chinese melamine debacle, but the agency still has surprises up its sleeve. It held back test results that reveal low levels of melamine in infant formula produced by U.S. companies Mead Johnson, Nestle, and Abbott Laboratories. Never fear, the traces are so low that it does not pose a health risk, says the FDA, which also determined a month ago that there is “no safe level of melamine in baby formula.” The agency reminds parents that it would be a “dangerous overreaction” to stop feeding formula to babies who depend on it. (The Ethicurean sez, yes, but we do hope this inspires more moms to breastfeed in the future if they can, and that it prompts formula manufacturers to really clean up their act.) (New York Times, AP via Daily Kos)

My amoeba, your amoeba: The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its annual Outbreak Alert report, finding that consumers were 29 times more likely to be sickened by eating fish and shellfish this year than by dairy products, the category with the fewest number of outbreaks. (Produce ranked as the second safest.) Note: turkey is much more dangerous than chicken. (CSPI Newsroom)

Finally, the (subsidy) change we need? Anderson Cooper 360 reports that Obama has singled out millionaires who receive farm subsidies — including sports team owners and insurance executives — as a prime example of the government waste he plans to end. Ken Cook, of Mulch, goes primetime in this video. (CNN) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) also issues a report calling on the USDA to improve their controls so that income limits are not skirted. (GAO)

Better than a free turkey: This month the proceeds from victory in Harris v. Eggleston, a lawsuit with its roots in 1990s welfare reform, are spreading holiday cheer to thousands of the poorest households in the city — roughly $12 million in awards being distributed to nearly 9,500 New York households. (New York Times)

Thanks but no thanks: Astronauts celebrating Thanksgiving in space will enjoy such tasty delights as turkey the consistency of “deli meat, but stiffer” and corn bread “with an institutional flavor.” We’ll stick with green-bean casserole, thanks. (AP)

Glean on me: “Second harvesters” on California’s North Coast are joining the increasing ranks of those who glean what’s left after the first, to distribute to the area’s hungry. (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat)

Probably beats methadone: Preliminary trials indicate that healthful dietary changes — including boosting amino acids that are found in whole foods like nuts, seeds, fish, brown rice and milk — could be an effective weapon in treating addictions. (The Economist)

Heads up to the Bostonites: A devastating fire destroyed the popular Verrill Farm stand in Concord, MA in September, but thanks to hard work by the farm family, workers, and the community, the stand is back up and running — just in time to sell 2,000 Thanksgiving pies. (Boston Globe)

Bluefinale: Under the current conservation management plan, the population of bluefin tuna will soon qualify as critically endangered, the the highest category of risk. (The Economist)

An inconvenient kernel of truth: Researchers tested U.S. fast food for the presence of carbon isotopes to measure their corn content. Their findings? “Of 160 food products we purchased at Wendy’s throughout the United States, not 1 item could be traced back to a noncorn source.”  (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences abstract; thanks Jack!)

Don’t follow that chicken! If it weren’t bad enough that feeding livestock antibiotics is threatening the efficacy of antibiotics, now we find out that transporting those industrial-quality chickens may be spreading their cold and flu-causing germs to nearby automobiles. (Journal of Infection and Public Health and Johns Hopkins)

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