A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Consumer Alert: Contaminated Chicken

Image from ICHC

If you've switched to poultry because of the nasty video evidence of what the food processing companies are doing that contribute to the recall of over 143 million pounds of ground beef, you ought to know that there's a recall currently under way of chicken contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Warning: Do not click the video link unless you plan to swear off eating beef, or possibly meat, for life. Especially, do not click if you are (a) sensitive; (b) an animal lover; (c) eating, or about to eat.

Some 7.5 tonnes of chicken product — specifically, Discover Cuisine Red Curry Chicken & Jasmine Rice, with a best by date of Dec. 18, including 1.7 tonnes from Inovata Foods of Edmonton — have been recalled.

The product is distributed in 12-oz packages, each bearing the Canadian establishment number Est. 302 inside the Canadian Food Inspection Agency mark of inspection.

The frozen chicken entrees were produced on Oct. 18, 2007, and were exported to the United States. Some 10,368 pounds have been recalled from Costco Wholesale of Issaquah, Wash., and 2,184 pounds from Meijer Distribution Center of Grand Rapids, Mich. Meijer apparently distributed these products in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. If you shopped at these locations in any of the states mentioned, inspect your purchases carefully for the distinguishing marks described.

Meijer representatives said only 21 packages of the potentially contaminated product have been sold, including one each at stores in Holland and Big Rapids, Michigan. If you purchased this product at Meijer, contact them at 800-543-3704.

Do not consume this product. Call Bob McColl of Inovata Foods at 780-454-8665 for instructions on disposal and refunds.

Additionally, The Guardian is reporting that Gourmet Boutique of Jamaica, N.Y., has recalled 6,970 pounds of meat and poultry products bearing the production code GBD 08058 on the package. These products are mostly chicken but also include meatloaf and turkey and were sent to stores in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as distribution centers in New York. For more information, call 718-977-1200.

Image from MicrobeLibrary

Listeria monocytogenes can be life-threatening to young children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. So far, the media has been publicizing the food processors' and distributors' line in implying that Listeriosis, which results from infection by Listeria monocytogenes, has few consequences in healthy adults.

They neglect to mention, for example, that listeriosis is dangerous to pregnant women, whose immune systems are suppressed as an effect of pregnancy. And anything that affects the health of a pregnant woman affects the health of the fetus. (Perhaps this will convince those "right-to-a-miserable-life" troglodytes in the hardly-ever-right wing that food safety is important.)

However, a little research reveals how patently untrue that is. From ScienceDirect:
The repeated oral administration of a sublethal dose (5×109colony-forming units) of Listeria monocytogenes for 7 or 10 consecutive days led to the development of severe central nervous system (CNS) lesions in 25% of experimental mice. Histopathological examination of the brain revealed rhombencephalitis and ventriculitis as two distinct inflammatory patterns, resembling those seen in human listeriosis.
Michael Barza, M.D., of Tufts University School of Medicine explores in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) some interesting observations on Listeriosis and milk:
The excretion of L. monocytogenes in cow's milk is well recognized. Cows with listeric mastitis may produce normal-appearing milk containing large numbers of bacteria. Some of the organisms may survive pasteurization and may then grow better than competing species at refrigerator temperatures — a phenomenon called "cold enrichment." Milk may be a particularly effective vehicle because it protects the bacteria from gastric acid.
If you consume milk regularly, you might want to consult this post. Dr. Barza goes on to tell us about the effects of Listeriosis:
as many as 20 per cent of patients with listeriosis may have a cerebritis. The lesions range from macroscopic abscesses to a diffuse encephalitis. A fascinating variant, the "rhombencephalitis syndrome," which involves the pons and medulla, is the human counterpart of circling disease in sheep.

About 25 per cent of patients with listeriosis have a "primary bacteremic form" without evident foci of origin or metastasis. This form, too, occurs mainly in immunosuppressed patients but may also strike pregnant women. Other patients have localized infections such as endocarditis, endophthalmitis, hepatitis, and oculoglandular or cutaneous infection.

In other barfacious news, Heinz Foods is recalling some 40,000 cases of Boston Market brand lasagna with meat sauce, after having discovered that the meat therein is derived from the recent recall of 143 million pounds of beef from a California meatpacker of dubious ethics and inarguable inhumanity. Call Boston Market Frozen Food Consumer Helpline at 1 (800) 488-0050 if you have a question.

Congress has subpoenaed executives of the meat-packing company, Reuters tells us:
Steve Mendell, president of Hallmark/Westland, was invited by the subcommittee to testify at a hearing on February 26 on the role companies play in recalls and food safety, but he did not appear. The subpoena orders Mendell to testify on March 12.
What, is this another personal friend of George W. Bush? He thinks he can do like Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten and just not show up? Mr. Mendell, you have your nerve. If you wanted to evade Congressional oversight, you should have arranged to kill 4,000 U.S. troops and 1 million Iraqis!

Rep. Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan, chairs the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations. Members are:
  • Diana DeGette, D-CO
  • Ed Whitfield, R-KY
  • Charlie Melancon, D-LA, Vice Chair
  • Greg Walden, R-OR
  • Henry A. Waxman, D-CA
  • Tim Murphy, R-PA
  • Gene Green, D-TX
  • Michael C. Burgess, R-TX
  • Mike Doyle, D-PA
  • Marsha Blackburn, R-TN
  • Jan Schakowsky, D-IL
  • Joe Barton, R-TX (Ex Officio)
  • Jay Inslee, D-WA
  • John D. Dingell (Ex Officio)
You might want to consider contacting your Rep if s/he is on that list. Doing the people's business requires input from the people. If you want safe, clean food for your family, you can go vegan or vegetarian or produce (and butcher) your own, in your copious free time. If you want safe, clean food for the entire nation, including your family, you need to supervise the people who are monitoring your food supply.

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