DREGULATOR VOL. VI # 21: YOU ARE WHAT THEY GET YOU TO EAT

I have a new theory: I think Britney lost her kids due to a gradual mental deterioration brought on by Mad Cow disease.
It’s not her fault. We should blame multinational agribusiness.
ConAgra, for example, has been getting away with the equivalent of a vile, frat-house prank on your grocer’s freezer for years. They’re getting away with it because rank hath privilege. They’re the chief food supplier to Walmart, after all.
Remember the Peter Pan Peanut Butter epidemic of early ’07? ConAgra is the parent company of Peter Pan. The Center for Disease Control linked ConAgra peanut butter to 625 cases of salmonella in 47 states earlier this year. Since peanut butter is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it was recalled soon after the salmonella outbreak.
Frozen pot pies, however, are a different story, because they are regulated by the USDA.
Banquet pot pies, also made by ConAgra, have just been linked to at least 152 cases of salmonella in 31 states. ConAgra was kind enough to offer a refund for the offending pot-pies, but instead of issuing a recall, issued a “consumer alert,” which they felt would be “more appropriate.”
Conagra assured their sick customers that if they had only cooked their pot-pies properly, the salmonella bacteria in them wouldn’t have made them incredibly ill.
“We’ve taken this step knowing that we may need to take additional measures as we learn more from the ongoing investigation that is being led by the USDA,” ConAgra spokeswoman Stephanie Childs said.
But don’t let a little salmonella outbreak discourage you from popping a delicious Banquet Turkey Pot Pie in your microwave.
Salmonella usually doesn’t kill people; it is just a little annoyance, really – a particularly bad case of food poisoning that happens to be transmitted when humans eat foods contaminated with animal feces.
ConAgra suggested that it somewhat unreasonable to expect a frozen pot pie to be free of salmonella, because salmonella is “among the common pathogens” in those kinds of products.
Which is true: salmonella bacteria is, apparently, a common ingredient in Banquet pot pies. The US Department of Agriculture found that in 2001, ConAgra’s turkey processing plant in Longmont, Colorado, had the highest rate of salmonella of all the turkey processors tested that year: nearly half of ConAgra’s turkeys were contaminated with salmonella bacteria (compared with an equally disgusting but nearly reasonable 13-percent contamination rate for the rest of the turkey processing industry.)
This is probably because of what the turkeys eat. Currently, it is legally allowable for ruminant animal feed to contain chicken coop waste, as well as pig and poultry slaughterhouse waste.
Policies on animal feed are influenced by aggressive lobbies by the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (which is thisclose to Conagra.) The Republicans love them some meat, and the NCBA surely loves its Republicans.
In fact, nearly 80 percent of campaign contributions from the livestock and meat processing industries have been going to Republicans. The NBCA even endorsed Bush-Cheney for re-election in 2004 – the first presidential endorsement in the Association’s 106-year history.
Some say these cozy relationships between industry and government have compromised our regulatory agencies.
Nahhh.
Enormous public relations efforts to maintain global confidence in our U.S. food exports, however, haven’t been very successful.
China, in fact, has deemed certain American food dangerous and won’t allow its citizens to eat it.
In Feburary of this year, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantines (AQSIQ) issued a ban on ConAgra’s Peter Pan Peanut Butter, because it failed to meet the requirement of their sanitary standards. They found it to contain “Tennessee type Salmonella bacillus.”
The ban on Peter Pan Peanut Butter went into effect immediately, in China.
China also banned various foods produced by agribusiness food giants Tyson and Kraft.
FYI, ConAgra is also the parent company of Butterball turkeys. Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Consumers should remember to microwave their turkeys for at least 72 hours before serving.
But the Chinese won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving with no Butterballs. That’s for sure. Not for all the monk-beatings in Burma.
Perhaps ConAgra should rewrite the anti- idiot-litigation warning labels on their pot pies and peanut butters – the ones that say: “Caution: May Contain Nuts.” Perhaps they should read, “Caution: May Contain Animal Feces.” Or, if that’s too harsh a wording, maybe they can give more money to Republican congressmen and have it read, “Caution: May Contain Cigarettes.”
With a cigarette, at least, you know what’s going in your mouth.
Watch the birdy, fiends.