Catherine Woteki, served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for research, education and economics in the Obama administration.
She recently told Pro Publica “This position is the chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture. It should be a person who evaluates the scientific body of evidence and moves appropriately from there.”
Trump expects to appoint Sam Clovis — who, according to sources with knowledge of the appointment and members of the agriculture trade press, is President Trump’s pick to oversee the section — appears to have no such credentials.
Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.
Morningside College sounds like painting with Dali (below) on SCTV’s Sunrise Semester.
Clovis advised Trump on agricultural issues during his presidential campaign and is currently the senior White House advisor within the USDA, a position described by The Washington Post as “Trump’s eyes and ears” at the agency.
Clovis was also responsible for recruiting Carter Page, whose ties to Russia have become the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny, as a Trump foreign policy advisor.
Neither Clovis, nor the USDA, nor the White House responded to questions about Clovis’ nomination to be the USDA’s undersecretary for research, education and economics.
Clovis has a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an MBA from Golden State University and a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama. The University of Alabama canceled the program the year after Clovis graduated, but an old course catalogue provided by the university does not indicate the program required any science courses.
Clovis’ published works do not appear to include any scientific papers. His 2006 dissertation concerned federalism and homeland security preparation, and a search for academic research published by Clovis turned up a handful of journal articles, all related to national security and terrorism.
Doering writes: The 20th anniversary of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) seems to have gone by unnoticed, even by the CFIA. Has it lived up to the original vision? Has it achieved its promise from 20 years ago?
Of course I‘m not an unbiased observer. In April, 1995 I was given the lead responsibility to carry out the consultation on how Canada should reorganize its food inspection and related activities. I put together the team to carry out the review. We called ourselves the Office of Food Inspection Systems (OFIS). When we completed the consultation, we recommended the most ambitious of the options reviewed–that the government should create a new independent legislated agency with the full regulatory authority for the whole food chain. Our Minister Ralph Goodale went to Cabinet in the late fall of 1995 and the Chretien Government adopted our recommendation. OFIS was also given the lead to set it up and we got the historic legislation through in time to open the doors on April 1, 1997. Later I served as its President until I retired from the public service.
Looking back on the original OFIS documents, the CFIA was created to meet five broad objectives. How well have these been met?
Enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of federal food inspection and related services. The CFIA clearly met this goal. $44 million dollars were saved. Overlap and duplication was reduced. Sixteen programs that had formerly been delivered by four different departments were brought under one roof. Consumers and industry now have one point of contact.
Provide integrated governance of food safety, plant health and animal health. This was fully achieved. We are still the only jurisdiction in the world that brings under one agency the whole food chain: feed, seeds, fertilizer, all food including fish as well as animal and plant health. The value of this integration has been widely recognized. For example, Canada managed the challenge of BSE better than most countries because senior officials in charge of animal health were also in charge of food safety. This integration also accounts for our fully integrated investigation and recall system led by the widely-respected Office of Food Safety and Recall (OFSR). Canadians now take this single point of contact for granted. Remember, for example, that in the US it is still the case that a vegetarian pizza is the responsibility of FDA but a pepperoni pizza falls under the jurisdiction of USDA etc.
Enhance international market access. The CFIA has harmonized technical trade areas, negotiated many international equivalency agreements, challenged misuse of technical measures and played a major role in influencing international standards. Former OFIS member and afterwards CFIA Vice-President Peter Brackenridge has noted that “with the changing international trade environment, a single organization like the CFIA is well placed to manage the challenge of protectionism by the misuse of technical standards.”
Enhance Provincial and Federal regulatory harmonization. Former OFIS member and afterwards CFIA Vice-President Cam Prince notes that this is one area where progress has not met our original expectations. This issue may take on increased impetus in light of the recently announced Canadian Free Trade Agreement but there continues to be major international trade law barriers to full intergovernmental harmonization.
Modernize Canadian Food Law. In 1999 the CFIA introduced First Reading of Bill C-80 which would have provided a truly modernized legal basis for the regulation of food and related activities but it did not proceed for political reasons. With the current Safe Food for Canadians Act (and Regulations) now being completed, finally we will have a more modern legal foundation for the future, though not as integrated as the former Bill would have provided.
With an annual budget of over $700 million and over 6,000 staff the CFIA is, by far, Canada’s largest science-based regulatory agency, respected within the federal system, by the provinces and admired around the world as a model.
The CFIA has met most of our original expectations. While there have been bumps along the road, Canadians should be proud of the CFIA’s many achievements. Its anniversary should be celebrated.
I was lying on the floor, ordered to remove my shoes, and asked: “What do I think of when I hear the term, GMO.”
This was about 1995, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food – always a Ministry, stick with the gospel – had brought in some French marketing guru who apparently got famous selling coffee on the aroma, and he was now going to tell us how to sell genetically engineered foods.
We also got to sit behind one-way mirrors and watch people react to terms which, while voyeuristic, was completely dumb and cost taxpayers a few hundred thousand.
It was at that point I solidified my view of stop the bullshit, you wanna sell genetically engineered food, brag about it or go home.
Now, after a decade of disappointing results to reduce the number of people barfing from foodborne illness – nothing to do with GE foods — it’s time for fresh approaches.
Same as it ever was.
barfblog.com has no sponsors – government, industry or academic – so we’ll try a few things.
It won’t be polite.
People barfing and dying from a meal is unacceptable in a so-called advanced society.
And look for our new boy band (of writers) Food Safety Assholes.
My PhD is in food science, but it was really risk communication as related to food.
That was over 20 years ago.
Academics and consultants are still reinventing the wheel and still making a good buck at it.
Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will fund a campaign to promote genetically modified organisms in food under a bipartisan agreement to keep the government funded through the end of September.
People don’t want to be educated, they want to be compelled, with decent stories.
More than 50 agriculture and food industry groups had signed on to an April 18 letter urging the funding to counter “a tremendous amount of misinformation about agricultural biotechnology in the public domain.”
As David Brooks of the N.Y Times wrote about Donald Trump, he’s a “political pond skater — one of those little creatures that flit across the surface, sort of fascinating to watch, but have little effect as they go.”
Same with all the GMO social actors in this 20-year-old fairytale.
Been there, done that. The ditch is more interesting than the road.
A comparative study of communication about food safety before, during, and after the “Mad Cow” crisis
The Oxford Handbook on the Science of Science Communication, Matteo Ferrari, 2017
The “mad cow’ saga provides useful insights into the complexities that surround public communication on food safety issues. The first part of the chapter describes the most important scientific characteristics of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and its human counterpart, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The second section offers an account of the unfolding of the public communication before, during, and after the BSE crisis, including the diverse positions adopted by different countries and the legal reforms enacted to improve risk communication. The final part provides an analysis of the key features of the mad cow crisis: the importance of trust and transparently, the uncertainties that can characterize scientific information, the effects of cognitive bias, and the role of cultural context. All these factors contributes to both the amplifying and downplaying-depending on the place and time- of the BSE risk in the public mind.
But if some folks are going to push a point, expect some push back.
Risk comparisons depend on meals consumed. Not many Americans consume raw milk or raw milk cheese, yet the products are continuously the source of outbreaks.
The following abstract of a paper takes a stab at quantifying the per-meal problem.
Why has no one published about the imagined safety of raw milk products in a scientific journal?
Because it’s another food safety fairytale.
Until credible data is presented, all the naturalist wankers can take the advice of novelist Kurt Vonnegut, “Why don’t you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don’t you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?”
And stop wasting public health resources, assholes.
Outbreak-related disease burden associated with consumption of unpasteurized cow’s milk and cheese, United States, 2009-2014
Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 23, no. 6, June 2017, Solenne Costard , Luis Espejo, Huybert Groenendaal, and Francisco J. Zagmutt
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/23/6/15-1603_article The growing popularity of unpasteurized milk in the United States raises public health concerns. We estimated outbreak-related illnesses and hospitalizations caused by the consumption of cow’s milk and cheese contaminated with Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter spp. using a model relying on publicly available outbreak data. In the United States, outbreaks associated with dairy consumption cause, on average, 760 illnesses/year and 22 hospitalizations/year, mostly from Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp.
Unpasteurized milk, consumed by only 3.2% of the population, and cheese, consumed by only 1.6% of the population, caused 96% of illnesses caused by contaminated dairy products. Unpasteurized dairy products thus cause 840 (95% CrI 611–1,158) times more illnesses and 45 (95% CrI 34–59) times more hospitalizations than pasteurized products. As consumption of unpasteurized dairy products grows, illnesses will increase steadily; a doubling in the consumption of unpasteurized milk or cheese could increase outbreak-related illnesses by 96%.
The restaurant inspection system in Brisbane is hopeless beyond belief.
For a cow town that wants to profit from tourism rather than coal and cattle, they are beyond stupid about it.
At least we got good folks to coach the little kids in hockey.
The disclosure system is voluntary. If a restaurant gets two-stars-out-of-five, for example, they don’t put up the sign.
How is it that Toronto, LA, NYC and hundreds of other places figured out how to make restaurant inspection disclosure mandatory, yet Brisbane and most of Australia go on a faith-based system – which usually involves someone blowing someone.
According to the Courier Mail,the parents of a Brisbane city councillor have admitted breaking food safety laws enforced by the council, with inspectors finding cockroaches “happily living” in the carvery they run in a city foodcourt.
Paddington councillor Peter Matic’s parents Milovan and Milena Matic were slapped with fines after a council health inspector unearthed issues with cleanliness, maintenance and cockroaches at their Carvey and Seafood in the Myer Centre in January last year.
The couple were fined $3000 each after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the business complied with the food Act.
The company, Nano Investments Pty Ltd, also copped a $29,000 fine for five counts of failing to comply with the food standards code.
Kevin Cartledge, for Brisbane City Council, said officers inspected the eatery on January 19, 2016, and issued an improvement notice.
So a whole bunch of people ate at that shitshow after the Jan. 19, 2016 inspection, but no one bothered to tell customers.
It’s some perverse British legal system thing, that potentially puts consumers at risk for months after the failings are discovered.
When they returned two days later, the officers discovered the business was still breaching food safety laws, triggering a suspension the following day.
He said the most concerning element was the presence of a large number of cockroaches.
“You have, essentially, the perfect circumstances for cockroaches to live and breed,” he said.
“Given that there were adult and juvenile cockroaches in the premises, it clearly suggests that there was a life cycle and these cockroaches were happily living and feeding.”
He pointed out the company has had compliance issues in the past, and infringements notices had been served.
“This is a company that has been put well and truly on notice yet has still failed to comply with their requirements under the Act,” he said.
So why the fuck wouldn’t you make it public to warn unsuspecting consumers that the place was a shithole?
Too much monkey business.
Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health
NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14
Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell
Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.
I’ve reached my American Beauty moment, and may I go on and have such a fruitful career as Kevin Spacey has since 1999.
I’m an unemployed former food safety professor of almost 20 years, who coaches little and big kids in hockey and goofs around.
I’ve enjoyed the last few months – despite the angst of moving into a house that may slide down the hill at any moment given the Brisbane rains – but with 80,000 direct subscribers and students and media still contacting me daily, I feel a connection.
I just gotta figure out how to get paid.
(If you see any adverts on barfblog.com, like Amy did this morning, it is not authorized. Chapman and I are quite happy to say what the fuck we want and call people on their food safety fairytales).
And I would like to publicly apologize to Amy for dragging me to Australia, and all the bitching I did about shitty Internet, and how I lost my career (at the mall).
It’s looking much better now.
Kansas State University took whatever opportunity they could to get rid of me, for the salary, for the controversy, for whatever. Wasn’t too long after that Kirk-2025-Schultz bailed for Washington state. The provost queen is still stuck there.
As full professor, Kansas had become boring and I hated doing admin shit.
And there was no ice.
When people in Australia ask me about President Trump (two words that never sound right together, like Dr. Oz – thanks, John Oliver) I say, look at Kansas, that is what will happen to America.
Kansas can only hope that reports are true that the Trump administration will let its governor, Sam Brownback, escape the disaster he created in Topeka for a quieter United Nations agricultural post in Rome. And global humanity can only hope for the best.
Mr. Brownback, a Republican first elected on the Tea Party crest of 2010, used his office as a laboratory for conservative budget experimentation. His insistence that tax cuts create, not diminish, revenues has left the state facing a ballooning deficit plus a ruling by the state Supreme Court that Kansas schoolchildren have been unconstitutionally shortchanged in state aid for years, with the poorest minority children most deprived.
The court ruled this month that they would shut the state’s schools if funding wasn’t made equitable by June 30. It found reading test scores of nearly half of African-American students and more than one-third of Hispanic students were deficient under aid formulas favoring more affluent school districts.
Mr. Brownback played no small role in the long-running school crisis by leading the Republican Legislature to limit school aid after enacting the largest tax cuts in state history, for upper-bracket business owners. Characteristically, the governor’s reaction to the court mandate was to further undermine schools by suggesting parents “be given the opportunity and resources to set their child up for success through other educational choices.”
If that’s the governor’s parting contribution to the school crisis before his flight to a Trump diplomatic appointment, Kansas parents and school administrators cannot be too surprised. They have been experiencing the deepening budget crisis firsthand in shortened school hours and resources as the state suffered two credit downgrades. Public protest led to a number of Brownback loyalists voted out last year, with legislative newcomers igniting a budget revolt against the governor. He barely survived a showdown last month, by vetoing a $1 billion tax increase.
The tax push seems likely to be renewed, since the state faces a two-year $1.2-billion deficit plus the school funding mandate. For that obligation, state education officials have estimated it might require $841 million over the next two years. The court fight was prompted by a slide in school aid that began in the recession under Mr. Brownback’s predecessor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat. But it spiraled once the Brownback tax cuts drained state coffers.
It seems unfair that Mr. Brownback might abandon the mess he created, especially since Mr. Trump never ceases to renounce life’s “losers.” But Kansans have learned the hard way that they need to be free from the benighted Brownback era, and maybe Mr. Brownback has, too.
I wish nothing but the best for my Kansas colleagues, and a slow, endless angst for administration assholes who put money above values.
There was a time I thought being a prof meant something.
The mass poisoning, in the impoverished Upper Egypt province of Sohag, north of Luxor, was one of the biggest food-safety cases to hit the country in years.
Officials suspect that school lunches may have been contaminated, and they have opened an investigation. Samples from the lunches, consisting of processed cheese cubes, dry sesame paste bars and loaves of bread, were being analyzed, they added.
Children, most younger than 12, began vomiting within an hour of eating the lunches, Ahmed Nashaat, a Sohag lawmaker, said in a telephone interview. A total of 3,353 children became ill, and at least 50 ambulances were sent to the schools, state news media said. Since then, all but 17 of the students have recovered and been discharged. No deaths or serious complications were reported.
The ordeal revived complaints over the declining quality of Egypt’s public education and health systems. “It is ridiculous how this keeps on happening,” Mr. Nashaat said. “It is not hard to store biscuits and look at the expiration date.”
Apparently in an attempt to deflect some of the anger, the governor of Sohag, Ayman Abdel-Moneim, quickly suspended the distribution of government meals and demanded that changes be made to how they were stored and transported to schools.
Tuesday’s outbreak was one in a long series that have occurred in public schools and universities nationwide recently. Earlier this month, more than 214 students were found to have food poisoning caused by government meals at several schools in the provinces of Minya and Assiut.
Outrage over such instances of perceived government neglect was a main cause of the popular uprising in 2011 that toppled the government of President Hosni Mubarak. “It was not just the parents who were angry in Sohag,” Mr. Nashaat said. “Everyone believes that was the result of neglect. This is leading people to conclude that the people in charge don’t care about their kids.”
Beth Driscoll, MA, CPHI(C), CHA, PMP (I’m not sure what all those initials mean) and PhD Candidate, Policy Studies, at Ryerson University (that’s in Toronto, which is in Canada) writes:
My name is Beth Driscoll, and I am inviting you to participate in a brief, online survey. This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and investigates the perceptions of Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) auditors’ role in public health. This survey is being conducted for my doctoral research project at Ryerson University.
To participate in this project, you must:
•]be fully certified to conduct GFSI audits for at least one benchmarked scheme;
• have completed at least five GFSI audits of that scheme; and,
• be fluent in English.
The survey is not intended to investigate or assess the GFSI, a GFSI benchmarked Food Safety Scheme, Certification Body, Accreditation Body, government or other organization. Should the responses to the survey questions contain information that would identify one of these organizations, the identifying information will be anonymized prior to use.
Conflict of interest declarations: I am a contract employee for NSF International. This information is being collected solely for my researcher’s graduate degree, and is not being collected for any organization associated with the GFSI or NSF International, nor do I conduct GFSI audits.
If you choose to participate, you will be asked to complete an online survey about your professional identity and your understanding of your role in public health through the audits you conduct to a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked Food Safety Scheme. The survey is confidential is using Opinio, Ryerson University’s Online Survey Program, and all data is stored at Ryerson University. This study has undergone review through the Ryerson University Research Ethics Board and if you have questions about your rights as a research participant, you may contact the Ryerson Research Ethics Board at [email protected]. If you have any questions about the survey please contact the researcher, Beth Driscoll, at [email protected] or Dr. Richard Meldrum at [email protected] before continuing.
Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you feel may be qualified to participate.
I’ve had different versions of this paper running through my head for 25 years.
It started as a rebel-without-a-clue teenager, and led to questions about mad cow disease in 1995 (or earlier) when the UK government knew there were human victims but said nothing until March 1996.
My father – the inspiration for the cooking show paper – has asked me a couple times over the years regarding the engineering/automotive sector, when they knew something was wrong; what should we do? But like so many other sectors, it gets brushed aside.
There’s money involved.
My local hockey club can’t figure out how to go public, so it’s no wonder that public health agencies can’t figure it out either.
Yet the job of public health, no matter how many political assholes, no matter how many impediments, and no matter how many dog bites you have to investigate, is to protect public health.
If people are barfing, it’s time to go public.
That doesn’t always (rarely) happen.
Anyone can search barfblog.com under the phrase “going public” and find hundreds of incidents of people acting like shits.
But this is important shit, because credibility depends on transparency and trust and truthiness (at least in my idyllic world-view).
Public health is under siege.
The science is there, the outbreaks are there. Go public.
Or at least explain the process so mere mortals can understand.
Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health
NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14
Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell
Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public.
Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough.
Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.
Goat, rabbit, hare, kangaroo, wallaby and bird are currently listed as game in the state, provided the animals have not been confined or farmed in any way.
The proposed new definition would see the list grow to include buffalo, camel, deer, donkey, hare, horse, pig and possum — bringing SA in line with an updated section of the Australian and New Zealand Food Standard Code.
The changes would include strict conditions so that animals would have to be slaughtered in the wild; protected native species could only be hunted with special permits; and bird eggs, foetuses or pouched young, would remain excluded.
Adelaide game meat specialist Richard Gunner said “in general” there were some good things about the proposal.
“I don’t see any particular market for donkey meat, possum meat and horse meat, but camel meat, yes,” he said.