How ketchup baron H.J. Heinz became the “main force behind the passage of the Pure Food Law of 1906″ [Tim Carney, Washington Examiner]
Media coverage of a new Jonathan Klick-Joshua Wright study has focused mostly on the evidence that reusable grocery bags are high-bacteria environments and likely vectors for foodborne illness, but Robert Anderson notices another striking conclusion: “The authors estimate that the additional deaths from the plastic bag ban value each saved animal at $87,500.” That estimate includes only actual deaths from foodborne illness, and not the cost of nonfatal illnesses. [Witnesseth]
“The FDA has issued two proposed rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act enacted in 2011.” [Brian Wolfman, Public Citizen, with details and links; The Packer] “The costs to fruit and vegetable growers for complying with the newly proposed produce safety regulation have been estimated at more than $30,000 annually for large farms and about $13,000 per year for smaller farms.” [The Grower] How much do typical US farm households make in a year, you may wonder? According to U.S. government figures (here and here, for example) a large proportion of smaller family farms make little or no profit, and are instead supported by the off-farm earnings of family members. The 2011 law does provide exemptions for some of the very smallest producers, and the FDA also contemplates delayed implementation of rules for some others.
We followed the issue of small farms/foodmakers and the cost of the new law here, here, here, here, here, here (amendments aimed at lessening some burdens on small producers), and on a predecessor bill, here, here, and here.
Jacob Sullum: “New York Times Accidentally Admits That Energy Drinks Are Safer Than Coffee.”
Megan McArdle, in her annual holiday guide to kitchen gadget buying:
If you don’t want quite this much capacity — if you’re cooking for one or two, and hate leftovers — then I recommend getting an older (pre-1990) crockpot off of eBay. In recent years, food safety regulations and fear of liability has caused manufacturers to raise the heat on their slow cookers, which means the food cooks faster. I entertain enough that I reluctantly gave up lower heat for larger capacity (old crockpots tend to come in 2-3 quart sizes, rather than the 5-6 quarts that are standard now.) But only an older crockpot will give you really low and slow cooking.
A small company goes right on defying the Consumer Product Safety Commission: I’ve got more at Cato at Liberty (& see Nick Farr, Abnormal Use).
“The California Homemade Food Act clears the way for home cooks to make and sell a wide range of products, such as jams and jellies, without the need to invest in commercial kitchen space or comply with zoning and other regulations.” [Christian Science Monitor]
Learn to eat lionfish, advised officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a recent publicity campaign: not only is it tasty, but you’ll be combating an exotic-species invasion that is endangering reefs. Oops! “Of 194 fish tested, 42 percent showed detectable levels of ciguatoxin and 26 percent were above the FDA’s illness threshold of 0.1 parts per billion.” [MSNBC] Ciguatoxin, common in reef predators, is a naturally occurring toxin that can cause neurological disorientation and a variety of other nasty effects.
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.