10 Million pounds of poop stranded in Alabama railway sparks outrage in nearby town

It’s the poop train that wouldn’t leave.

Charleston Lim of Inquisitr reports that in the small rural town of Parrish, Alabama, several train cars carrying tons of human waste have been stranded for months. Residents literally cannot step out of their houses without getting a whiff of the foul stench emanating from the stranded train cars. According to a report from CNN, the train cars were on their way to a private landfill operated by Big Sky Environmental from waste management facilities in New Jersey and New York. However, the cars were left there when the town of West Jefferson filed a case against Big Sky Environmental for temporarily storing the waste in a yard near the town.

As reported by WVTM 13, West Jefferson’s case was a success, which meant that the company would have to find another place to temporarily store their train cars. Due to the lack of any zoning laws in Parrish prohibiting the company from storing their train cars, Big Sky Environmental had decided to move their cargo to the small town. The train cars carrying the foul cargo were parked just across the town’s baseball field. Parrish currently has around 982 residents in an area of just around 2 square miles, which means that everything is practically within smelling distance.

Big Sky initially informed officials that the cars would eventually be moved after a few days, but that turned out to be false as the cars have been sitting on the tracks for more than two months now. The town’s mayor, Heather Hall, has been getting complaints from residents who are starting to get concerned about how the stench could be affecting their health. The qualities of life for Parrish residents have apparently been greatly affected as well as they can no longer stay outside their houses or have their kids play outdoors. There is also the concern of flies getting in their houses and potentially contaminating their food.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Environmental Protection Agency have informed residents that the cargo isn’t dangerous as it is categorized as “Grade A biowaste.” Hall has already approached Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey regarding their situation and lawmakers are reportedly now trying to find a solution to the problem.

The thing that wouldn’t leave from topo morto on Vimeo.

Philosophy, food and schnapps: Herring recalled because of Clostridium in Canada

I still have fond memories of a misspent youth building houses in the summer, drinking schnapps, eating pickled herring, and talking philosophy with my Danish mentor, John.

schmaltz.herringHe was also a great dancer.

So it pains me a little to note that, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Elite Salads International is recalling Elite Salads brand schmaltz herring products from the marketplace because they may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Elite Salads Schmaltz Herring 200 g All codes up to and including Best Before: May. 08, 2015 7 77739 10035 5
Elite Salads Schmaltz Herring 200 g All codes up to and including 15MA08 None
Elite Salads Schmaltz Herring 454 g All codes up to and including 15MA08 None
Elite Salads Spicy Schmaltz Herring 200 g All codes up to and including Best Before: May. 08, 2015 7 77739 10005 8
Elite Salads Spicy Schmaltz Herring 200 g All codes up to and including 15MA08 None
Elite Salads Spicy Schmaltz Herring 454 g All codes up to and including 15MA08 None

This recall was triggered by the CFIA’s inspection activities. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Statistics for food safety at 2012 Olympics

The world’s first comprehensive, automated outbreak detection system which will monitor over 3,000 infections and is ready to run during Olympics 2012, was developed by a researcher at The Open University.

Paddy Farrington, Professor of Statistics at The Open University, began work on the outbreak detection system while he was at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the early 1990s. The system has proved its worth over the years and will be run by HPA during the period of the London 2012 Olympics.

The system has already contributed to the detection and control of numerous outbreaks of infections including:

An outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis phage type 14b in 2009, an outbreak of Salmonella Java in 2010, an outbreak of Salmonella Poona in 2012.

The system has been implemented in Sweden, southern Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark; and been adapted to detect excess mortality in Belgium.

Enhanced surveillance using the system is also planned for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow.

The system is based on a set of algorithms known as Robust Poisson Regression (RPR). Outbreak detection starts with the detection of an unusual number of reported cases of a particular infection in a given time and space. Computer programs are used to compare the observed number of cases with expected values. When an increase is detected, the program raises an alert, which epidemiologists assess to determine if further investigation is warranted. If an outbreak is confirmed, further investigations follow and control measures are taken.

Fake health inspector phones Des Moines restaurant, talks to real inspector

There’s been a spate of health inspector scams preying on restaurants throughout the U.S. in the past five years. From handwashing signs for cash to extorting fake inspection fees, the fake inspector business has been booming.

WHO-TV reports a man calling a Des Moines restaurant pretending to be a state health inspector was interrupted when a real inspector got on the phone.

Emily Wegner says she was at the restaurant Wednesday when she heard a server yell into the kitchen that the state health department was on the phone. Wegner, whose job it is to inspect restaurants, says she got on the phone and told the caller that he was not an inspector and that she was.

The fake inspector wanted to schedule an appointment but asked for a deposit for the visit.

Wegner says the state does not charge for inspections.

Wegner says she got the caller’s information and reported the scam to police.

University students plan cafeteria boycott after health violations

Big tip of the hat to the students at New York’s Pace University and a Colbert wag of the finger to Lackmann Culinary Services, which runs the school cafeteria, and was closed after health inspectors discovered it was a dump.

DNAinfo.com reports the city shut down Pace’s main dining hall, along with the school’s coffee kiosk and late-night eatery, last Thursday after observing workers touching food with their bare hands and storing perishable items at unsafe temperatures.

The 79 violation points also included citations for dirty clothing, no soap in the bathroom and un-sanitized cloths.

And just like in the UAE, a company spokesthingy had to say, health and safety are the company’s top priorities.

Which is why Lackmann only now plans to hire a full-time sanitarian and has already made changes to better monitor food temperatures. Students said they noticed the staff wearing gloves for the first time.

They got caught.

The students are having none of it and have Facebook-planned a boycott of the cafeteria.

Orlando Olave, 22, a Pace senior who said he knew several people who believe they have gotten food poisoning from the cafeteria, adding,

"I felt like it was going to happen eventually. [The workers’] aprons are usually dirty, and they wipe their hands on them."

Ashley Cetinkaya, 19, a Pace freshman who plans to buy her lunch elsewhere from now on, said,

"It’s unacceptable considering the prices they charge us. I’m not going to be eating there again."

A Pace spokesthingy said the university is meeting with students this week "to discuss their grievances and the university’s plans for addressing them."

Pace students, take some food safety knowledge with you to the meeting and you’ll know far more than the bureaucrats or the catering firm.

Honey laundering: sweet and sickly

Honey’s in everything. Check out any bakery product, sauce, processed food. A little dab of nectar makes anything smoother.

Toronto’s Globe and Mail ran a great feature a few days ago about the international honey cartel – so realistic it could be based in Jersey. Excerpts below:

As crime sagas go, a scheme rigged by a sophisticated cartel of global traders has all the right blockbuster elements: clandestine movements of illegal substances through a network of co-operatives in Asia, a German conglomerate, jet-setting executives, doctored laboratory reports, high-profile takedowns and fearful turncoats.

What makes this worldwide drama unusual, other than being regarded as part of the largest food fraud in U.S. history, is the fact that honey, nature’s benign golden sweetener, is the lucrative contraband.

Honey has become a staple in the North American diet. Those that do not consume it straight from bear-shaped squeeze bottles eat it regularly whether they know it or not – honey is baked into everything from breakfast cereals to cookies and mixed into sauces and cough drops. Produced by bees from the nectar of flowers and then strained for clarity, honey’s all-natural origin has garnered lofty status among health-conscious consumers who prefer products without refined sweeteners (think white sugar and processed corn syrup). About 1.2 million metric tons of honey is produced worldwide each year.

What consumers don’t know is that honey doesn’t usually come straight – or pure – from the hive. Giant steel drums of honey bound for grocery store shelves and the food processors that crank out your cereal are in constant flow through the global market. Most honey comes from China, where beekeepers are notorious for keeping their bees healthy with antibiotics banned in North America because they seep into honey and contaminate it; packers there learn to mask the acrid notes of poor quality product by mixing in sugar or corn-based syrups to fake good taste.

None of this is on the label. Rarely will a jar of honey say “Made in China.” Instead, Chinese honey sold in North America is more likely to be stamped as Indonesian, Malaysian or Taiwanese, due to a growing multimillion dollar laundering system designed to keep the endless supply of cheap and often contaminated Chinese honey moving into the U.S., where tariffs have been implemented to staunch the flow and protect its own struggling industry.

Savvy honey handlers use a network of Asian countries to “wash” Chinese-origin product – with new packaging and false documents – before shipping it to the U.S. for consumption in various forms.

Fifteen people and six companies spanning from Asia to Germany and the U.S. were recently indicted in Chicago and Seattle for their roles in an $80-million gambit still playing out in the courts. That case has been billed as the largest food fraud in U.S. history. But American beekeepers, already suffering from a bee death epidemic that is killing off a third of their colonies a year, say the flow of suspect imports has not let up.

In the honey world, there are two types of countries: producers and consumers. The United States is one of the largest of the latter, consuming about 400 million pounds of honey a year. Its beekeepers can produce only half that amount leaving exporters to fill the rest. Canada produces about 65 million pounds of honey a year and ships its surplus, 20 to 30 million pounds, south of the border.

China, the world’s largest producer of honey, would seem a natural candidate to fill the gap. But Chinese honey is notorious for containing the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol, used by farmers to keep bees from falling ill. The European Union outlawed Chinese honey imports because of it.

Dilution is another issue. According to Grace Pundyk, author of The Honey Trail, Chinese manufacturers will inject a type of honey with litres of water, heat it, pass it through an ultrafine ceramic or carbon filter, and then distill it into syrup. While it eradicates impurities such as antibiotics, it also denies honey of its essence.

Ten years ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce accused the Chinese honey industry of dumping cheap product into the American market at prices well below the cost of production. Canadians also detected surprisingly low-priced product crossing its own borders.

Australian investigators uncovered the roots of a global conspiracy when they intercepted a large consignment of “Singapore” honey bound for the U.S. in 2002.
At the time, Singapore didn’t produce honey. The shipment was traced back to China, opening the first window into a worldwide scheme in early bloom: The industry had figured out they could launder Chinese honey through neutral countries able to ship into the U.S. without paying tariffs.


Most Philadelphia school cafeterias flunk – Health Dept

More than half of the schools in the Philadelphia School District – 53 percent – failed their most recent health inspection, according to state Department of Agriculture records, while a staggering 66 percent of charter schools were out of compliance.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that of the 40 schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that were inspected last school year, 35 percent were out of compliance.

Some schools on the list were hit with as many as 20 risk-factor violations, ranging from mouse feces found on cooking utensils to food being stored next to chemicals.

Justin Carter, a recent West Philadelphia High School graduate, said he gave up eating school lunches long before he graduated. He said the news doesn’t come as a surprise.

"It’s atrocious," he said, recalling his food woes at his alma mater, which was hit with 10 violations last spring.

"They served chicken twice a week, and it wouldn’t be cooked all the way through – it was soft and pink in the middle. The food worker would put it in a microwave for five minutes like that would make it better. It would be the same way every time."

Food porn, NY Times college cafeteria edition; blowing rhetorical chunks

Why do people no longer read newspapers? Because despite flashes of brilliance, the quality control just isn’t there anymore with all the slashed budgets and too few people.

The New York Times today published a blog entitled, That cafeteria cheese steak might be antibiotic-free, a supposed reflection on college admissions by some mom, Caren Osten Gerszberg.

Antibiotic-free is a bogus claim.

Last month, Gerszberg apparently spent the day at the University of Pennsylvania with her daughter, and her “ ears immediately perked up when our tour guide mentioned the school’s new, sustainable-minded, organic-leaning dining service provider. …

On the Penn Web site, (new provider) Bon Appétit’s food is described as follows: “made from scratch; purchasing practices are seasonal, local and sustainable; meat and dairy antibiotic free, rGBH free milk, featuring cage free eggs; unique menus per cafe; vegetarian, vegan & international options; following Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines.” Without being able to comment on taste at this point, it definitely sounds like a much better direction along nutritional lines — and is so unlike my days of college dining.”

Those claims have little or nothing to do with nutrition. And absolutely nothing to do with microbial food safety – the things that make students barf every week at some campus across America.