Tag Archives: food safety

CA State Senator Dean Florez Convenes Panel Concerning Approval of Strawberry Pesticides

California Food Safety & Health

There is nothing quite like pulling over to the side of many California roads and highways to purchase and enjoy fresh picked Strawberries! When I do so, rarely do I make it home with any strawberries left.  Like me, it is a pretty good bet that you know little of serious potential health hazards that may be looming from something that tastes so good.  

Informational Hearing

“Evaluating the Health and Environmental Impacts of Methyl Iodide:

What Are the Alternatives?”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, D-Shafter, who has become the defacto Legislative leader of food safety and consumer protection in the California State Senate, and is also a candidate for California Lt. Governor, will hold a hearing of the Senate Food and Agriculture Committee on Monday morning in Sacramento. The hearing will focus on investigating safe alternatives to the strawberry pesticide methyl iodide – a carcinogen which is believed to induce miscarriages and which poses a threat to groundwater – as state regulators prepare to decide if the chemical should be allowed for agricultural use in California.

Methyl iodide is proposed as a replacement for the fumigant methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting pesticide which is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement.

While methyl iodide is better for the ozone than methyl bromide, many argue that it is actually much worse for farmworkers and local communities.  Its use had been linked to cancer, miscarriages and neurological problems.  Last year, twenty-seven members of the State Assembly wrote to the Administration urging caution and calling for a commitment to outside review before approval.

Florez will convene a panel of researchers, regulators, farmers, farmworker advocates and concerned residents to discuss the risks to human health and the environment posed by methyl iodide, in anticipation of the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s consideration of plans to allow its use on California fields.

“It’s my understanding that there are much healthier alternatives on the table, for which there are even funds available to make them cost-effective to growers,” said Florez.  “I can’t imagine how we can ignore those alternatives when communities and human lives are at risk.”

Monday’s hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. in Room 3191 of the California State Capitol Building.

Prop 2: Humane Farms Producing Healthy Food

 In Charlotte’s Web, healthy animals romp around the farm, playing with their families, and enjoying a full life, fearful only of seeing their life reach its end. Many of us grew up believing farms were really like that, the image reinforced by commercials for burger joints and frozen foods. The reality of California’s factory farms, unfortunately, is quite different.

During pregnancy, pigs are locked alone in gestation crates – metal cells only two feet wide. Without enough room to turn around, they often develop joint disorders that leave them unable to walk. They will bite at the metal bars, desperate to escape, but of course they are helpless. Hens on egg farms are crammed into battery cages, never once enjoying the freedom to spread their wings, let alone engage in natural behaviors such as nesting or dust bathing. Veal calves are taken from their mothers, just hours after birth, to live in crates with their necks chained in place, never able to move, held in a single position until the day they are butchered.

The animals’ torment is bad enough, but these conditions produce meat and eggs that threaten consumers’ health. Such stressed animals become sick, and because they are unnaturally crowded together, they spread diseases to one another at an accelerated rate.  

Hens forced by their cramped conditions to defecate on their own eggs produce eggs that can spread Salmonella. More than 50,000 Americans fall victim to this disease every year, and a recent study found that facilities using battery cages were 20 times more likely to be contaminated than those that were cage-free.

As the Center for Food Safety put it, “Extreme intensive confinement can have potentially serious public health and food safety implications and should be phased out as is being done in the European Union.”

Next week, California voters will finally have a chance to see these conditions phased out here. Proposition 2, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and endorsed by an array of consumer health and safety groups, will guarantee, very simply, that all California farm animals get enough room to turn around, stand up, lie down, and stretch their limbs.

This proposal is modest enough. Similar laws have already passed in Arizona, Colorado, and other states. Though factory farms decry this as government regulation that will hurt their profits, many family farms already practice the ethical standards Prop 2 would set. By their success, these family farmers prove it is possible to earn a fair profit while treating animals humanely and protecting consumer safety.

Unfortunately, these ethical farmers suffer a disadvantage when their competitors are allowed to cut corners. The status quo rewards farms that feed us sick and suffering animals, and it punishes farmers who raise animals in a natural, healthy fashion. Prop 2 will solve this. By requiring all farms to raise their animals humanely, Prop 2 will help ethical farmers enjoy more competitiveness while helping consumers find safer food. It is no surprise that more than 100 family farms in California support Prop 2, even while their big-agribusiness counterparts spend millions trying to defeat it.

Bottom line for voters: Prop 2 will deliver healthier food from more compassionate farms. This one deserves to pass overwhelmingly. Please support Prop 2.

And a video made by students:

Chinese processed food, lazy international reporting, and Bushie deregulation.

Did you have any idea that just within the last few years, glass noodles — the tasty, high-protein, transluscent noodles made from mung bean flour, which you can pick up in the international foods section of most groceries, or at a local ethnic market like Ranch 99 — were twice implicated in scandals of the type that has roiled the pet food market?

Neither did I, until I decided to go looking for info on the quality of such imports.  I found a whole slew of stories on the topic — but none in US news sources.

In a 2004 case, a company was producing noodles made from a cheaper, lower-protein substitute (corn starch), and then making them translucent through application of a lead-based whitening chemical.  In a 2006 case, another company used an industrial bleach to make their noodles more shelf stable.

Given the Bushies’ neutering of our regulatory agencies (see: MSHA’s complicity in the string of mine fires), what assurances do we have that products like this aren’t on our shelves, either from China or from companies here at home?  Remember Food Lion’s bleached meat?

Furthermore, given that glass noodles are on our shelves, and have been for years, why hasn’t the US media talked, at all, about these ’04 and ’06 cases?  Where’s Lou Dobbs, chief reporter on the trade-paranoia beat, when you need him?