Day: April 26, 2007

Melamine – Now in Humans

Once again, there’s no evidence that melamine at such low levels would pose any threat to humans. (or pigs, I guess, they have other issues to worry about!). It is the lack of ingredients control, and the casual diversion of food considered unfit for pet consumption to animal feed. If you did this to some other, more dangerous contaminant, and I don’t see any reason why the same thing would not happen, we’d be in a lot more trouble. The U.S did not really learn any lessons from the mad cow scare.

In a way, I am glad this story has unfolded the way it did, slowly, and methodically up the food chain, finally reaching humans. It provides some insight into how the US government “regulates” food, and what needs to be done to shore up this program. (hint, better regulation, more money, more inspectors!). Of course, as a cat owner, (and one who had an unexplained trip to the hospital to treat said cat for puking and general stomach issues), I wish that cats were not the canary in this particular food safety scare, but I guess it really made people pay attention.

Report: Tainted hogs enter food supply – Yahoo! News

Several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans, the government said Thursday.

No more than 345 hogs, from farms in three states, that possibly ate tainted feed are involved, according to the Agriculture Department. It appears the large majority of the hogs that may have been exposed are still on the farms where they are being raised, spokeswoman Nicol Andrews said.

Salvaged pet food from companies known or suspected of using tainted ingredients was shipped to hog farms in seven states for use as feed. A poultry feed mill in an eighth state, Missouri, also received possibly contaminated pet food scraps left over from production. The fate of the feed made from that waste was not immediately known.

EPA Accused of Flouting Supreme Court –

You may remember from a few weeks back when the supremes in a very rare unanimous decision ruled that the Duke Energy would have to install new pollution controls if it made modifications to its power plants that increased annual emissions without increasing hourly emissions. Well, never mind that, the EPA released a “rule” that “clarifies” this issue.

EPA Accused of Flouting Supreme Court –

The government proposed a pollution standard for power plants Wednesday that critics said flouts the spirit of a Supreme Court ruling on clean air enforcement.

The proposal would make it easier for utilities to expand plant operations or make other changes to produce more electricity without installing new pollution controls.

The proposal would allow the use of average hourly smokestack emissions when determining whether a plant’s expansion or efficiency improvements require additional pollution controls. The EPA hopes to make the proposal final before year’s end.

Opponents of the hourly standard recently argued before the Supreme Court that this standard lets a plant put more smog-causing chemicals and other pollution into the air, even if hourly releases do not increase.

Environmentalists long have contended the EPA should continue using annual emissions to determine whether new pollution controls are needed under the Clean Air Act.

Let’s get this straight, “environmentalists contend”? There is nothing to contend here, it’s simple math. If you keep hourly rates the same and run your plant for longer, you will emit more pollution, which is not good. Less pollution good, more pollution bad, there is no point of contention here. Hourly standards and annual standards are used for two different things. The hourly standard sets a lower limit on the efficiency of the pollution control operation for the plant. The annual standard measures the plant’s overall impact. Both of them need to be regulated. It is only common sense that if you put out twice the amount of pollution in a year because you run 20 hours per day instead of 10, you need to control it. The Supremes rightly tagged this argument as dishonest, only to see the EPA very happily turn around and reissue it as an official rule.