On June 16, 2005, I discussed during a seminar at the University of Guelph why processors, ingredient suppliers, restaurant operators, and any operations involved in the growth, processing, and distribution of food products should understand the legal consequences and dangers of what may happen when foodborne illness strikes as a result of one of their

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 76 million – or one out of every four – Americans are sickened as a result of consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Some become seriously ill; 325,000 require hospitalization and 5,000 die. Older adults, young children, and those who have weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable.
More than 250 different foodborne diseases have been identified. Most of these diseases are infections caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Foods that are contaminated with poisonous chemicals or harmful substances can also cause illness. Symptoms of foodborne illness vary by disease but the most common are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Continue Reading Foodborne Illness

According to a recent article written by the Associated Press, The Food and Drug Administration had promised in January 2004 to close loopholes in a ban on putting cattle remains in cattle feed. However, according to the article, the loopholes seem to remain:

  • Ground-up cattle remains can be fed to chicken, and chicken litter is fed back to cattle. Poultry feed that spills from cages mixes with chicken waste on the ground, then is swept up for use in cattle feed.
  • Cattle blood can be fed to cattle and often comes in the form of milk replacement for calves.
  • Restaurant leftovers, called “plate waste,” are allowed in cattle feed.
  • Factories are not required to use separate production lines and equipment for feed that contains cattle remains and feed that does not, creating the risk that cattle remains could accidentally go into cattle feed.
  • Besides being fed to poultry, cattle protein is allowed in feed for pigs and household pets, creating the possibility it could mistakenly be fed to cattle.
  • Unfiltered tallow, or fat, is allowed in cattle feed, yet it has protein impurities that could be a source of mad cow disease.

One would think tough enforcement is in order on the feeding of animal parts to other animals that are eventually consumed by humans. This should be a “no brainer.”

Continue Reading What to do about the “Mad Cow”

The Associated Press did an interesting article on a Montana man named John Munsell who wants out of the meat processing business and is trying to sell the meat processing plant his father started decades ago. All of this comes after the ConAgra recall and the USDA’s claims that his plant’s food protection efforts are

Thursday, June 16, 2005
12:30 — 1:30 pm
OVC Learning Centre
Room 1715
University of Guelph
I will discuss why processors, ingredient suppliers, restaurant operators, and any operations involved in the growth, processing, and distribution of food products should understand the legal consequences and dangers of what may happen when foodborne illness strikes as a

Recently the media has focused public attention on a one inch piece (uncooked) of a finger found in the chili at a fast-food restaurant. Claims and counterclaims have flown. But, at this writing, most indications point to a grotesque hoax.
It’s too bad that some people make bogus, unsupportable claims of food-borne illness. But they do, and that means that health officials — and lawyers — need reliable criteria for identifying illegitimate claims.

Continue Reading How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety

Unfortunately, some people make suspect and unsupportable foodborne illness claims. It is important to develop a reliable method of identifying suspect, unsupportable, or illegitimate foodborne illness claims. In my experience, food industry corporations over-emphasize, and thus over react to, the presence of such claims. Such a strategy can lead to the denial of legitimate claims.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported yesterday that a human rights group has looked closely at a major industry in one country and found safety conditions like those of a century ago, systematic disrespect for workers’ rights and widespread disregard of international labor standards. Yes, conditions for U.S. meatpacking workers are scandalous.
Human Rights Watch last week released a comprehensive study of the meatpacking and processing industry. It’s a damning report that shows the widespread effects on workers of constant corporate cost cutting, union busting and political irresponsibility.
Worse, as Human Rights Watch acknowledges, much of the picture was already well documented, both in official papers and previous studies. The Human Rights Watch report gives particular credit to the chilling portrayal of workplace conditions in meat plants provided a few years ago by Eric Schlosser in “Fast Food Nation.”
As the Human Rights Watch report, written by Lance Compa, and Schlosser both observe, conditions today sadly mirror those in Upton Sinclair’s classic work, “The Jungle.” Sinclair’s portrayal of meatpacking plants, which will reach its 100th anniversary next year, led to federal legislation that improved conditions for workers and made meat considerably safer for consumers.

Continue Reading The Jungle’s new century