Kierkegaard? I don’t even know her: The Danish doctor of dread, and BS from food safety companies

Without Kierkegaard, where would Woody Allen be?

The 200th anniversary of Soren Kierkegaard’s birth has brought some stereotypical outpourings about angst and existentialism.

Me, it’s better to play hockey.

I have a soft spot for the Danes. Spending five summers hammering nails with a couple of Danish homebuilders in Ontario (that’s in Canada) taught me the value of being well-read and beer at morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon coffee. My friend John Kierkegaard would say, the beer is nice, but the work, it isn’t really so good.

When I went to Copenhagen in 1998 for a scientific meeting, there was beer at morning coffee.

Gordon Marino wrote in The New York Times that the way we negotiate anxiety plays no small part in shaping our lives and character.  And yet, historically speaking, the lovers of wisdom, the philosophers, have all but repressed thinking about that amorphous feeling that haunts many of us hour by hour, and day by day. The 19th-century philosopher-theologian Soren Kierkegaard stands as a striking exception to this rule. It was because of this virtuoso of the inner life that other members of the Socrates guild, such as Heidegger and Sartre, could begin to philosophize about angst.

The adytum of Kierkegaard’s understanding of anxiety is located in his work “The Concept of Anxiety” — a book at once so profound and byzantine that it seems to aim at evoking the very feeling it dissects.

Perhaps more than any other philosopher, Kierkegaard reflected on the question of how to communicate the truths that we live by — that is the truths about ethics and religion.

“Deep within every human being there still lives the anxiety over the possibility of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the millions and millions in this enormous household. A person keeps this anxiety at a distance by looking at the many round about who are related to him as kin and friends, but the anxiety is still there.”

Kierkegaard understood that anxiety can ignite all kinds of transgressions and maladaptive behaviors — drinking, carousing, obsessions with work, you name it. We will do most anything to steady ourselves from the dizzying feeling that can take almost anything as its object. However, Kierkegaard also believed that, “Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.”

In his “Works of Love,” Kierkegaard remarks that all talk about the spirit has to be metaphorical.  Sometimes anxiety is cast as a teacher, and at others, a form of surgery. The prescription in “The Concept of Anxiety” and other texts is that if we can, as the Buddhists say, “stay with the feeling” of anxiety, it will spirit away our finite concerns and educate us as to who we really are, “Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them.” According to Kierkegaard’s analysis, anxiety like nothing else brings home the lesson that I cannot look to others, to the crowd, when I want to measure my progress in becoming a full human being.

But this, of course, is not the counsel you are likely to hear these days at the mental health clinic.

I can attest to that.

So when Tyson launches a no antibiotics ever campaign, it is appealing to crass consumerism, making a buck, and throwing science back to when Kierkegaard was born.

We want our social media and technology, but we want our food produced in some 200-year-old barn.

Tyson President and CEO Tom Hayes said earlier this year that the company would continue to innovate in product development while remaining focused on sustainable production practices. “For us, sustainability isn’t a single issue; it’s about focusing on multiple dimensions in order to advance the whole,” Hayes said during the 2017 Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) Conference in Boca Raton, Florida. “We will use our reach, capabilities and resources to drive positive change at a scale we believe no other company can match.”

Amy and I went to a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game when Wayne was coach, maybe 2006, and this loudmouth behind us was bragging about some cougar he hooked up with in Boca.

That’s your benchmark, Tyson.

I have vague memories of another company, back in 2006, that turned its back on science and proclaimed no antibiotics.

They forgot about food safety, too busy being posers.

How’s that working out, Chipotle?

The language of this presser is full swallow-whole.

The company’s sustainability plans include establishing strategic partnerships to set science-based sustainability goals; continuing third-party audits of farms to certify humane treatment of chickens; improving how chickens are raised through a concept farm, with innovations designed to be better for the birds, the environment and food safety; and increasing transparency across the business, including sustainability efforts.

I’ve know people who can write this stuff.

Not me.

Not Kierkegaard

I’ve got no genius for evil, that makes me common.

The name “Kierkegaard” means “graveyard,” and “Søren” is an affectionate Danish moniker for the Devil.

Sorenne, you know you have some devil in you, and some science.

7 prisoners in Tenn. sick with Salmonella from Tyson chicken; compare response with Foster Farms

A link between mechanically separated chicken products from Tyson Foods and an illness cluster in a Tennessee correctional facility was established between seven case-patients at the facility, with two resulting in hospitalization.

Illness onset dates range from Nov. 29, 2013 to Dec. 5, 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service continues to work with the Tennessee FunkyChickenHiDepartment of Helath on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.    

Tyson Foods, Inc. a Sedalia, Mo., establishment, is recalling approximately 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with a Salmonella Heidelberg strain.

The mechanically separated chicken products were produced on Oct. 11, 2013. The following products are subject to recall:

40-lb. cases, containing four, 10-lb. chubs of “Tyson Mechanically Separated Chicken.”

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “P-13556” inside the USDA mark of inspection with case code 2843SDL1412 – 18. These products were shipped for institutional use only, nationwide. The product is not available for consumer purchase in retail stores.

Listeria-positive Tyson plant in Buffalo shut down by USDA

The Buffalo News reports that a Tyson meat processing plant on Perry Street has been shut down by federal regulators after inspectors found violations during follow-up testing stemming from an August recall of deli meat produced at the Buffalo facility.

The plant suspended operations Tuesday after an inspection by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the federal agency said Wednesday.

The shutdown was triggered by the results of sampling that the federal inspectors conducted during a food safety assessment, the agency said. That assessment was linked to the USDA’s activities at the Perry Street plant since the deli meat recall, said Gary Mickelson, a Tyson spokesman.

The plant employs 560 workers. About 480 workers are affected by what Mickelson described as a “temporary suspension of operations.”

In August, about 380,000 pounds of deli meat produced at the plant and sold at Walmart was voluntarily recalled after a sample tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

The plant had two similar recalls in 2004. Tyson first voluntarily recalled 442 pounds of cooked ham in August 2004 after a sample tested positive for Listeria. In November 2004, the company recalled another 50,000 pounds of hot dogs, prompted by an unspecified customer complaint. There were no reports of consumer illnesses in either case.
 

Costco, Tyson, reach new deal on testing for dangerous E. coli

The N.Y. Times is reporting in tomorrow’s editions that retail giant Costco has struck a new accord on testing for the pathogen E. coli.

Costco’s food safety director and seemingly decent dude, Craig Wilson, said the company would begin buying beef trimmings for making hamburger from Tyson, one of the largest beef producers, after an agreement reached with Tyson this week that allows Costco to test the trimmings before they are mixed with those from other suppliers.

The United States Department of Agriculture has encouraged such testing as a way to make hamburger safer, but some of the largest slaughterhouses have resisted the added scrutiny for fear that one grinder’s discovery of E. coli will lead to expanded recalls of beef sent to other grinders, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Costco is one of the few large grinders to test ingredients for the pathogen as they arrive at its plant, and Mr. Wilson said Tyson had declined to sell trimmings to the company, citing its testing.

A Tyson spokesman has declined to respond to the accusation, but said that the company did not prohibit grinders from testing and that some of its customers did conduct some of their own testing, beyond the testing that Tyson performs.

Swine flu outbreak affecting pork industry

The Associated Press reported yesterday in USA Today that Mexican authorities believe as many as 149 people have died from the current outbreak of swine flu.

Also in USA Today, Matt Krantz reported that,

“Shares of pork producers Smithfield Foods (SFD), Tyson Foods (TSN) and Bob Evans Farms (BOBE) dropped 12.4%, 8.9% and 6.4% respectively as investors wondered if consumers might cut back on pork consumption due to confusion about how the virus spreads.”

Currently, there is no evidence that swine in the US or Canada are infected. Even if some infected hogs surface, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that well-cooked pork cannot transmit swine flu. However, that doesn’t stop consumers from being concerned.

So, what are pork producers and processors doing to market the safety of their products? This is a great opportunity to show off their antemortem (live hog) and postmortem (hog carcass) disease monitoring programs.

Smithfield Foods, Inc. seized the moment and told investors in a statement Sunday that, “it has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in the company’s swine herd or its employees at its joint ventures in Mexico,” and, “its joint ventures in Mexico routinely administer influenza virus vaccination to their swine herds and conduct monthly tests for the presence of swine influenza.”

Tyson Foods, which does not operate any pork processing facilities in the affected areas, only referred to the CDC statement that the flu is not affecting pigs, and stated, “Our pork products are safe.” I doubt that brings much comfort to confused consumers who are actively trying to protect themselves. Show us some real evidence that your products are safe.

I haven’t seen anything from Bob Evans Farms. Maybe they don’t even know there’s an outbreak…

Consumers demonstrate their vote of confidence in products each time they make a purchase. Producers that speak up about risks and how they’re being managed are likely to receive more votes than those that don’t.

Court says Tyson chicken antibiotic claims must stop

Hucksterism. That’s how I characterized the marketing by Tyson Foods Inc. of its antibiotic-free fresh chicken almost a year ago.

A couple of judges have now agreed.

Today, a federal appeals court in Baltimore refused to block an order barring Tyson Foods from advertising that its poultry products don’t contain antibiotics thought to lead to drug resistance in humans.

The lower court ruling was a victory for rivals Perdue Farms and Sanderson Farms, who are suing to stop the advertisements. The two companies say the advertisements are misleading because none of the companies uses those types of drugs and shoppers could be led to think other companies use the drugs.

I continue to look forward to the day when food is marketed and advertised based on the lack of dangerous bugs that make people barf and shit.