One way to control vermin….

Shoot them.

Richard Allison reports
Milling wheat growers are being reminded not to use shotguns to control vermin in grain stores, as some flour mills have reported increasing amounts of lead shot being found among grain intakes.
Martin Savage, trade policy manager at the National Association of British and Irish Millers (Nabim), says while some shot can be screened out, a significant quantity may remain to contaminate end-products.
“Despite many attempts, it is impossible to determine whether the shot results from farmers shooting within grain stores or if it comes from shooting over standing crops,” he said.
See also: New significant wheat yellow rust strain is identified
He pointed to a recent case where a grower’s crops became contaminated after a neighbouring farmer operated a simulated “driven-game” clay shooting operation on adjacent land and the shot fell onto the nearby wheat crop.
However, Mr Savage added that it is difficult to understand how significant quantities of shot can result from this practice, and survive the harvesting process.
“Therefore, most of us believe that in the majority of these contamination cases, the shot comes from pest control within farm grain stores. Farmers should certainly never shoot within grain stores.”
Live cartridges
Of greater concern for some mills is the recent discovery of live ammunition.
“Flour millers have not only detected lead shot in wheat, but also found spent .22 cartridges and even live .410 cartridges at intake,” Mr Savage said.
He explained that the problem is that the milling process flattens the shot to paper-thin proportions that cannot always be found by the existing in-line metal detection systems.
In the past, there have been recalls of finished baked products which are not only very costly, but potentially damaging to the reputation of the food producer.
“We will always attempt to identify the loads containing shot and will not hesitate to seek compensation where problems occur,” Mr Savage said.

India seeking $99 million from Nestlé over noodle soup scare

NPR reports the Indian government is seeking $99 million in damages from Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé over the recent food scare involving the Maggi brand of instant noodles that are a household staple in India.

maggi.noodlesThe class action, filed late Tuesday before India’s National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, accuses Nestlé of “gross negligence, apathy and callousness.”

The government had ordered the popular snack cleared from the country’s shelves in June, after India’s food and safety regulators said they found unacceptable levels of lead in some samples, as well as the presence of monosodium glutamate, despite a label that said “No MSG.”

In response, Nestlé pulled nearly 400 million packets of its No. 1-selling brand from Indian stores.

Dismissing the allegations, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck told the Swiss newspaper Handleszeitung that Indian authorities forced Nestlé to burn 29,000 tons worth of “quality” food in the instant noodle soup dispute. He’s quoted as saying, “Laboratories in the United States, Britain, Australia and Singapore did not find anything harmful in the noodles. Our products are safe for consumers.” Brabeck added, “Nevertheless, the case in India is not harmless and should not be underestimated.”

The food safety scare that has been a commercial disaster for Nestlé has also exposed issues with India’s food safety regulatory system.

Reuasable shopping bags and risk ranking

Senator Chuck ‘Chuckles’ Schumer, a New York Democrat, sent a letter on Sunday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to investigate the issue of lead in those trendy reusable shopping bags – available for sale at most retailers.

I’m sure the Senate has other food-related matters it could be dealing with; I’m sure the FDA has some things to do; and I never understood why a consumer had to buy a new plastic container to recycle or compost, or a lead-lined bag to go shopping.

Everyone’s got priorities. And someone’s making a buck off it.

So as Chapman has written, the lead stuff isn’t much of a food safety priority.

Risk rankings are risky because inevitably, someone will get pissed.

But, as noted in the N.Y. Times on Sunday, “there is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public, and none of the bags sold by New York City’s best-known grocery stores have been implicated.”

USA Today today reported that Publix Super Markets and Winn-Dixie are asking suppliers to make reusable bags with less lead, according to Schumer. Wegmans Food Market in September said it was halting sales of some bags.

“They say plastic bags are bad; now they say these are bad. What’s worse?” asked Jen Bluestein, who was walking out of Trader Joe’s on the Upper West Side with a reusable bag under her arm on Sunday.

“Green is a trend and people go with trends,” Ms. Bluestein said. “People get them as fashion statements and they have, like, 50 of them. I don’t think people know the real facts.”

Whose facts are real?

Catherine Paykin, standing by the meat counter at Fairway said,

“I wasn’t planning on throwing it out, so that’s a positive thing. As long as I use it and don’t throw it away, that will be my plan.”

Sure, but wash it now and then. And if buying meat, wrap it in plastic and throw the plastic bag out.