Chef and Atlantic writer Jarrett Wrisley became trapped in his Bangkok home as the battle between Red Shirt protestors and government forces raged nearby. Check out his account at the link below. It’s unfair snipping, but here is a bit to whet your appetite:
On Wednesday, May 19, Thai troops pushed through barricades to force the Red Shirts out of their urban encampment. As their leaders surrendered, extremists burned at least 36 targets in Bangkok, including the city's largest shopping mall, many banks, and other places of economic and political significance. As I stirred a favorite recipe of browned garlic, white wine, chicken, and bay leaves, the smoke poured up past my kitchen window. And for the first time, I got really scared. I wondered if the violence could ever enter what was, until then, my guilty sanctuary. [The Atlantic, In Bangkok, Cooking in a Time of Chaos, 5/21/2010]
The new rules for campylobacter, which had not been regulated before, are that companies fail if they have more than 10% positives for "highly contaminated" carcasses and 46% for "low level" contamination. The USDA estimates that about 50% of poultry plants are now at this level.
In 2008, an estimated 40.2% chickens tested positive for campylobacter, which causes diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever. The CDC estimates campylobacter infects 2.4 million Americans a year and kills 124.
The poultry industry will work hard to fulfill customers' expectations "for safe and wholesome chicken," Lobb says.
Safe and wholesome chicken? And our government thinks that setting the new rules above the very bad “average” level it already is really protects us against anything? It sure protects the poultry industry, of course.
Ok, now what about salmonella. We’ve been warned to cook our chicken well because chances are it’s toxic when you bring it home. Same article:
Under the new standards, only 7.5% of chicken carcasses at a plant would be allowed to test positive for salmonella, down from 20% allowed since 1996. Salmonella levels in chickens were tested at 7.1% nationally in 2009, says Richard Lobb of the National Chicken Council.
So now salmonella can be allowed to increase from what it is (7.1%) to the slightly higher level of 7.5%, and that is supposed to be an improvement??
…there are 1.4 million cases of salmonella and more than 500 deaths annually in the USA
USA Today made the new standards look good. I wonder if they serve chicken salad sandwiches in their cafeteria.
I wonder how many readers they lose each year to campylobacter or to salmonella poisoning?
Good reporting, guys, I mean, Elizabeth.
Update: I just remembered this, from The Onion (3/10/2009):
As the British Petroleum oil spill continues unchecked, it seems apparent that the shrimp catch will be lost not just this year, but possibly for multiple years. Fishermen will lose their livelihoods and the next generation may move on to some other occupation.
While this report is several years old, it will give an idea of the size of the industry:
The U.S. domestic warm-water shrimp fishery, operating in the Gulf of Mexico, has traditionally been the nation’s most valuable. With major ports servicing the industry from Brownsville, Texas to Key West, Florida, the shrimp fishery was “king” with a season that generally runs from mid-June to January. Over the period 2001-2005 the average catch of shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico was approximately 110 thousand metric tons. The ex-vessel (at the boat) value of the Gulf of Mexico shrimp harvest in 2006 was $354.4 million (USD). While the catch was up 15 percent over 2005, the value was approximately equal. [The Gulf of Mexico Sustainable Shrimp Initiative]
Since most domestic shrimp is caught in the Gulf of Mexico, as those shrimp become unavailable, most likely they will be replaced by increased imports. Not only are those imports most often of lower quality, they are raised and caught in an unsustainable manner.
The Monterrey Bay Aquarium lists Gulf of Mexico shrimp as a “Good Alternative” and recommends avoiding imported shrimp, either farmed or wild-caught.
Shrimp is the world’s most valuable seafood and one of the top seafood choices of U.S. consumers. U.S. shrimp trawlers must adhere to stricter environmental standards than those in other countries and this makes U.S. wild-caught shrimp a "Good Alternative" and imported shrimp is on the "Avoid" list.
Most U.S. shrimp is caught in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These shrimp species are short-lived and reproduce at high rates, and therefore they are somewhat resistant to intense fishing. These shrimp populations are healthy and abundant and the fisheries are well-managed. … At this time we recommend avoiding all imported wild-caught shrimp due to higher bycatch levels in warm water shrimp fisheries and trawl-related habitat damage. [Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch page, Shrimp]
This tragedy should be enough to stop Obama and Congress from approving any more offshore drilling operations. If it is not enough of a hint, it will be up to us, as concerned and responsible citizens, to demand that they do that.
Although the Gulf of Mexico is far away for most people, the problems of corporate control of our government and government’s willingness to favor major corporate campaign contributors has been brought to a supermarket right near us wherever we live