The sale of live seafood, common in Chinese food markets, can collide with blanket state regulation of wildlife sales. Virginia, for example, classifies as wildlife any animals not appearing on a list of domestic animals, even if they are raised on farms and have never lived in the wild. While the Virginia suburbs of D.C. have won fame as a hot spot for admirers of Asian food, the selection got somewhat narrower last year with the confiscation of eels, crayfish, bullfrogs and other critters from the Great Wall supermarket. Two store managers were hit with felony charges. [NY Times, Washington Post]
While on the subject of hamburgers, Adam Ozimek takes on the sentimental sloganeering about “pink slime” and makes the case for getting more food out of each cow, quite aside from the safety advantages of the stuff.
Commenter Jesse Spurway: “I guess head cheese and scrapple are next on the hit list.” More: Andrew Revkin, NYT; Greg Conko, CEI.
Josh Barro explains why he prefers establishments that get a “B” rather than an “A” grade from NYC hygiene inspectors. [Forbes]
Traces of arsenic occur naturally in many foodstuffs, and apparently syrup derived from brown rice can have one of the higher concentrations [Chicago Tribune] Next shoe to drop: steak, creme brulee turn out to be good for you.
Dan Charles at NPR reports on how parts of the media joined in last month to hype a report by journalist Andrew Schneider in Food Safety News raising alarms about the safety and authenticity of honey. (Similarly: Maggie Koerth-Baker, BoingBoing). “It sounded so right, plenty of people decided that it just had to be true. … But then we decided to look into it a little more closely. We talked to honey companies, academic experts, and one of the world’s top honey laboratories in Germany. The closer we looked, the more misleading the story in Food Safety News seemed.”
My Cato colleague Sallie James was among the few to take a skeptical tone about the Schneider allegations when they first hit the press. And as NPR points out, Food Safety News is part of the sprawling new media empire of Bill Marler, the very media-savvy food poisoning lawyer whose Marler Clark law firm has done much to sway press discussion of many food safety issues. On a different topic, did Marler really say the other day that raw milk farmers should count themselves lucky they’re not put to death?
In Morristown, N.J., the city’s decision to reclassify a church-sponsored soup kitchen as a “retail food establishment” is expected to drive up the kitchen’s operating costs by at least $150,000 a year, in part by prohibiting volunteers from bringing in home-prepared food or even aprons. [William McGurn, Wall Street Journal] We’ve covered the issue periodically over the years.
Do parent-packed school meals require refrigeration protocols once thought suitable for human organs destined for transplant? Lenore Skenazy examines a ridiculous media scare. [Free-Range Kids]
A victory for California consumers and producers in search of artisanal tippling. [San Francisco Chronicle, last year]
At least so long as it’s produced in an industrial manner. [Chicago Tribune]
Knock three times at the cheese-easy: “A yearlong sting operation involving a multitude of state and federal agencies brought to justice Wednesday a dangerous ring of raw dairy enthusiasts in California.” [C.J. Ciamarella, Daily Caller; Reason.tv]
No wonder it had to go:
Her business, while it lasted, consisted of herself, making yogurt on the instructions of her father. Ms Dashtaki was renting space in the kitchen of an Egyptian restaurant where she and her father, “like elves before and after their working hours”, lovingly cultured their yogurt under a blanket, then drained it through a certain kind of cheese cloth, then stirred it for hours, and so forth. For the taste to be divine, everything has to be just so. And, being artisans, they kept the volume tiny, about 20 gallons (76 litres) a week, for sale only at local farmers’ markets.
Homa Dashtaki was eager to demonstrate that her yogurt was safe and healthful, but complying with California regulations turned out to be not so easy. In fact, authorities told her that she would face possible prosecution unless she established a “Grade A dairy facility” employing processes more commonly found in factories. A highlight: she’d have to install a pasteurizer even though she made her yogurt from milk that was already pasteurized. What’s more, California law makes it illegal to pasteurize milk twice, so there went any hope of continuing her straightforward way of obtaining milk, namely bringing it home from a fancy grocery store.
Ms Dashtaki is pondering whether to move to another state, one whose rules allow for artisanal products. She would not be the first entrepreneur to flee the Golden State.
Although a small artisan cheese sector struggles to get by, the California dairy market generally is dominated by mass-market producers selling blandly standardized wares. And you can see how that winds up happening. [The Economist]
More: Coyote. And more on the California regulatory climate from Ted at PoL, including a link to Cal-Peculiarities (PDF), by David Kadue of Seyfarth Shaw, on the state’s distinctively onerous employment laws.
It’s not hard for a small chicken farmer to get caught in it, as we find in this Jesse Walker account. The food safety bill passed last year similarly carves out a little exemption for small producers who sell directly to consumers at farmer’s markets and the like, while not exempting those who sell through intermediaries — even though the intermediary in such a case may be simply a neighboring farmer who is headed in to the city market.
Related: India’s ingenious dabbawallah lunch-distribution system, which could probably never get past health codes in this country [37 Signals via Market Urbanism]
The latest surprising application of California’s toxic-warnings law [Ken Odza]