In this edition...
Health and Environment
Alert: Britain issues warning about tainted food exported to Canada/U.S.
Full story: CBC.ca
LONDON - Britain issued an alert Friday about a cancer-linked additive that has contaminated hundreds of food products exported to Canada (plus the United States and several other countries). The country's Food Standards Agency says the products are tainted with a carcinogenic dye that was in a batch of chili powder used by Premier Foods to make a (Crosse and Blackwell) Worcestershire sauce. The sauce was in turn used in more than 350 frozen and fresh food products (some of them vegetarian).
The red dye, known as Sudan I, is most often used for colouring oils, waxes and shoe polish. The Food Standards Agency has ordered food retailers to withdraw the products. (Editor's note: Check the link below for a list of foods recalled.)
CBC.ca - February 18, 2005
Food Standards Agency (U.K.) List of Foods Recalled (February 21, 2005)
Red meat and dairy animal protein tied to heart risks
Full story: Yahoo! News/Reuters
Older women who eat a relatively large amount of protein from red meat or dairy products may have an elevated risk of dying from heart disease, the results of a large study suggest. The findings, say researchers, call into question the long-term safety of high-protein diets - at least the ones that don't distinguish the protein in steak and cream from that in tofu and nuts.
The investigators found that among more than 29,000 postmenopausal women, those who reported the highest intake of protein from red meat and dairy products had a roughly 40 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease over the next 15 years compared with women with the lowest intake of these foods.
Yahoo! News/Reuters - February 9, 2005
Veggie fibre-rich diet lowers cholesterol as well as drugs
Full story: The Toronto Star
A diet rich in fiber and vegetables lowered cholesterol just as much as taking a statin drug, Canadian researchers reported. They said people who cannot tolerate the statin drugs because of side-effects can turn to the diet, which they said their volunteers could easily follow. (Editor's note: Isn't this backwards?)
David Jenkins of St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto and colleagues created what they called a diet "portfolio" high in soy protein, almonds, and cereal fiber as well as plant sterols - tree-based compounds used in cholesterol-lowering margarines, salad dressing and other products.
The Toronto Star - February 11, 2005
Bird flu cases - and danger - underestimated
Full story: BBC News
The spread of the deadly bird flu virus may have been underestimated because of a misunderstanding of how it affects the body, British scientists have said. Oxford University experts studying deaths in Vietnam suggest the disease can attack all parts of the body, not just the lungs as had been thought. They told the New England Journal of Medicine they also believe humans could pass the virus on to each other.
However, experts believe millions could be at risk if the virus acquires the ability to jump from person to person by combining with a form of human flu to make a new, mutated, version. The lead researcher said: "This illustrates that when someone is suffering from any severe illness we should consider if avian flu might be the cause.
BBC News - February 17, 2005
Substances from grilled meat and eggs added to list of cancer-causing agents
Full story: Science Daily
Research Triangle Park, N.C. - The Department of Health and Human Services released its Eleventh Edition of the Report on Carcinogens today, adding seventeen substances to the growing list of cancer-causing agents, bringing the total to 246.
(Added were three) amine compounds formed when meats and eggs are cooked or grilled at high temperatures. They are listed in the report as "reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens."
Science Daily - February 1, 2005
"Mad cow" disease found in goat
Full story: BBC News
European scientists have confirmed what is thought to be the first known case of "mad cow" disease in a goat. It is the first time the brain wasting disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), has been found in an animal other than a cow. The animal was slaughtered in France in 2002 and was first thought to have the brain-wasting condition scrapie. Correspondents say it is a disturbing sign that BSE can be transmitted to other animals consumed by humans.
BBC News - January 28, 2005
Rogue mad cow proteins found in unexpected organs ABC 7 News (January 21, 2005)
U.S. allowed Canada to ship suspect meat The Boston Globe (February 17, 2005)
Influence from tuna industry puts public at mercury risk
Full story: PBS/NOW
In America one-in-six children born every year have been exposed to mercury levels so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities and motor skill impairment and short-term memory loss. That type of mercury exposure is caused by eating certain kinds of fish, which contain high levels of the toxin from both natural and man-made sources.
If the government and its scientists know about the mercury problem, why do so many people continue to be poisoned? Over recent years (PBS') NOW has examined how the influence of the tuna industry on the FDA may be putting Americans and their children at risk for mercury poisoning.
PBS/NOW - January 21, 2005
Lifestyles and Trends
At a time of diet mania, Dr. Ornish sticks to his "radical" basics
Full story: Portsmouth Herald
To heal your heart, eat less fat and more vegetables, exercise, meditate and quit smoking. These may not sound like radical ideas today, but they were back in 1977, when Dr. Dean Ornish began researching the power of lifestyle to reverse heart disease.
When his patients went on a low-fat, vegetarian diet and added meditation, yoga and exercise, they lost weight, lowered their blood cholesterol, unclogged their arteries and, on average, improved blood flow to the heart more than 300 percent - often ending chest pain and other cardiac symptoms. More recently, Ornish has published research showing that a similar approach can slow and even stop the progression of prostate cancer. An interview with Dr. Ornish...
Portsmouth Herald - January 23, 2005
One vegetarian tells her conversion story
Full story: The Daily O'Collegian
I was over at my friend Travis' house. I was hungry and Hamburger Helper sounded good. I had eaten almost the whole bowl when five words rang out. "You know that's deer right?" I was for the thousandth time in my life speechless. Then the sickness came. The next day I was even worse.
Friends tried to reason with me, "Its just like cow, Laura". Then I realized - I don't want to eat cow or any other living creature. So, I stopped. Cutting meat out of your diet is hard, but it's healthier. My skin got clearer and I lost weight. Plus, knowing that I wouldn't accidentally ingest deer meat gave me great peace of mind. Everyone wants to know why I decided to "go veggie." For all you curious carnivores out there here are some of the reasons why.
The Daily O'Collegian - February 9, 2005
Bean counters give the term a whole new meaning
Full story: accountingweb UK
In a novel attempt to differentiate itself in the marketplace, Chingford-based accountancy firm Jackson & Jackson has become the first practice to earn the official approval of the (UK) Vegetarian Society. In addition to maintaining a non-carnivore recruitment policy, the firm has a policy of supporting other vegetarian organisations, for example in using a vegan Web designer and vegan Web hosting company.
Since receiving the approval, partner Hartley Jackson said, "We have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of vegetarian clients on our books."
accountingweb UK - February 11, 2005
Mercedes agrees: Leather doesn't equal luxury
Full story: ENN/Reuters
BERLIN - Mercedes-Benz has agreed to offer "leather-free" versions of all its luxury cars to pacify an animal rights group that says thousands of cows are slaughtered each year for leather car seats and interiors.
After complaints from the German chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, DaimlerChrysler said its Mercedes subsidiary will offer fabric or synthetic leather as options. "When you consider that the skins of four to 15 cows are needed for each car this means thousands of cows will be spared," said PETA researcher Edmund Haferbeck. "This is a huge victory for animal rights."
ENN/Reuters - February 8, 2005
Meat worker safety criticized
Full story: CNNMoney
In a 175-page report titled "Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants," the group Human Rights Watch said that high production speeds and poor training at meat plants put workers at risk. "In the meat and poultry plants across the United States, Human Rights Watch found that many workers face a real danger of losing a limb, or even their lives, in unsafe work conditions," the New York-based group said.
"Meat packing is the most dangerous factory job in America," said Lance Compa, the report's author. "Dangerous conditions are cheaper for companies and the government does next to nothing." The meat industry responded that many of the report's allegations were either false or based on old information.
CNNMoney - January 26, 2005
Animal Issues and Advocacy
Hip-hopper joins rap against KFC
Full story: Edmonton Sun
NEW YORK - Hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons has joined other celebrities and activists who have criticized Kentucky Fried Chicken, saying he will call for a boycott if the company doesn't reform its slaughter practices. Simmons called slaughter practices used by the fast-food chain's suppliers "grossly inhumane" and has filmed a commercial "showing some of the very worst abuses chickens undergo" before they are served to customers, the New York Daily News reported.
"When a company targets our community, disrespects us as consumers and sells us products ridden with negative energy and laced with toxins, that is our business," said Simmons. Other celebrities and activists who have raised their voices against KFC include Rev. Al Sharpton, comedian and social activist Dick Gregory, actress Pamela Anderson and musician Paul McCartney.
Edmonton Sun - February 15, 2005
Humane organizations unite against KFC PeTA (February 15, 2005)
Study links Ebola outbreaks to animal "bushmeat" carcasses
Full story: Medical News Today
All recent Ebola virus outbreaks in humans in forests between Gabon and the Republic of Congo were the result of handling infected wild animal carcasses, according to a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The study found direct links between the deadly disease in animal populations and humans.
"This research proves that hunting and consumption of great apes represent a serious health risk for people in Central Africa," said a co-author on the paper. "What we need now is improved awareness of this risk in communities where bushmeat is still a source of sustenance and continued monitoring of wildlife in the region. We have identified a 'win - win' opportunity by using this information to both protect endangered apes from illegal hunting and to protect humans from deadly outbreaks."
Medical News Today - February 15, 2005
Victory for the little guy: New ruling in "McLibel" case
Full story: Yahoo! News/Reuters
Two Britons found to have libeled the U.S. fast food chain McDonald's after the longest court case in English legal history did not have a fair trial, the European Court of Human Rights. Helen Steel and David Morris, whose 1984 pamphlet accused McDonald's of starving the Third World, destroying rainforests and selling unhealthy food, were also deprived of free speech by the 1997 ruling, it said.
Morris, a single father, hailed the ruling as a "total victory." "It is only the end of the legal battle. It is not the end of the battle for the public to be able to criticize powerful organizations in our society," said Steel, a part-time bar worker and community activist.
Yahoo! News/Reuters - February 15, 2005
An answer to the question: Would cows have a use if not for food? Power!
Full story: ENN/The Frederick News-Post
Frederick County (Maryland) farmers are assessing the viability of methane digesters on their farms to save money, better utilize their resources and help the environment. Digesters capture gases from cattle manure to turn into energy. "It's another form of energy available for the community to tap into," said Frederick County Dairy Extension Agent Stan Fultz.
Manure is readily available on farms to turn into two end products, electricity or natural gas, while the nutritive value is still available to farmers for growing crops. "The benefit comes to the farmer in that he can use the power on his own farm to decrease his bills," Mr. Fultz said. Neighbors benefit from a drastic reduction in odor and that renewable energy is being produced right in their own neighborhood.
ENN/The Frederick News-Post - February 1, 2005
A step in the right direction: Whole Foods Market creates new animal foundation
Full story: Farm Bureau
On Jan. 25, Whole Foods collected 5 percent of its global sales revenue to establish the Animal Compassion Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to "assist and inspire ranchers and meat producers around the world to achieve a higher standard of animal welfare excellence."
"These enhanced standards are to be completed by 2008 for every species sold by the company and are being developed jointly by Whole Foods Market and animal welfare advocacy groups," according to an Animal Compassion Foundation news release. PETA is one of the groups named. Another is Viva! USA.
Farm Bureau - January 28, 2005
Animal rights group boycotts Whole Foods Supermarket News (January 31, 2005)
Essay from Dr. David Suzuki: Mad cows a symptom of a sick food system
Full story: ENN
The discovery of yet another Canadian cow infected with BSE, or mad cow disease, has again raised alarm bells about the safety of our beef. But really, we should be asking ourselves what caused the problem in the first place and how we can make our meat production safe and sustainable.
When the bottom line is always to cut costs and improve profit margins, then animal welfare, food safety and environmental considerations go out the window. If producers can save money by feeding meat byproducts to cattle and essentially turning animals that are naturally herbivores into carnivores, then that's what happens. And if society ends up with avian flu outbreaks, BSE, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and water pollution from vast quantities of manure, then too bad for us. In this thought-provoking essay, environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki says we do have options. First, we can eat less meat....
ENN - January 27, 2005
Are They Serious?
Give us a break today! Ronald McDonald to be a health ambassador in schools
Full story: Washington Post
McDonald's Corp., known for its Big Macs and fries, is sending its flame-headed mascot, Ronald McDonald, into elementary schools to push fitness - part of a corporate campaign to address the childhood obesity issue.
Ronald, the company's newly dubbed "chief happiness officer," has become the company's "ambassador for an active, balanced lifestyle," McDonald's Chief Creative Officer Marlena Peleo-Lazar told a government panel yesterday. Her announcement came the same week an appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against McDonald's in which two New York teenagers claim they got fat because the company hid the health risks of its food.
Washington Post - January 28, 2005
Utah House approves "secret" records on livestock and disease
Full story: The Wichita Eagle
SALT LAKE CITY - With no debate, House representatives approved a measure that ensures the public won't be able to see state records on livestock populations and efforts to trace diseased animals.The 68-0 vote came as Utah prepares to join a national identification program for livestock that would make it possible for diseased animals to be traced back to their farm of origin within 48 hours.
Rep. Craig Buttars, a Republican who runs a 220-head Holstein dairy farm in Lewiston, said farmers should be able to expect privacy for records on livestock operations and animals. "We don't want the public and those who want to harm us to have access to records that could give them the opportunity to harm our operations," he said.
The Wichita Eagle - February 15, 2005
March 20 is Meatout Day 2005
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