Meat fell from the sky in Kentucky 140 years ago

Emma Austin of the Courier Journal asks, what would you do if chunks of raw meat rained down from the sky?

Hopefully you wouldn’t eat it, but apparently some people did when “a horse wagon full” of hunks fell from the sky on March 3, 1876, covering the yard of a confused farmer’s wife in Bath County.

What was described as “flakes” of meat rained down around Mrs. Allen Crouch, who was making soap in her garden at the time.

An article in The New York Times a week later published the account of Harrison Gill, “whose veracity is unquestionable.” The article said some pieces were three to four inches square, and others stuck to the fences. When the meat first fell, it “appeared to be perfectly fresh.”

The two unidentified men who tasted the meat said it was either mutton or venison.

Over the next two days, curious neighbors and scientists flocked to the Crouches’ farm to try to determine what had caused the strange phenomenon.

There is no definitive agreement about what happened that day, said Kurt Gohde, an art professor at Transylvania University who has researched the incident. There are, however, plenty of theories.

Gohde’s favorite theory is one that he said was presented later in The New York Times that it was “cosmic meat” — flesh of animals from an exploding planet. People were familiar with meteors at the time, but they didn’t know that it would’ve been impossible for the meat to fall through the Earth’s atmosphere without being incinerated. So the explanation was certainly plausible to them, no matter how absurd it sounds today.

One scientist who tested the meat said it was tissue from the lungs of a child or goat, which drew a lot of attention, but didn’t stick.

One theory that didn’t get a lot of attention, Gohde said, was by Robert Peter, a scientist at Transylvania University: vulture vomit.

Peter knew, or at least theorized, that when vultures are startled or need to take off quickly, they may need to lighten their load so they can fly. In such cases, the birds vomit food they’ve recently eaten, possibly even while flying.

This theory is believed today to be the most likely, though Gohde pointed out it has a big hole: To believe the vulture vomit theory is to disbelieve the account of the only person who saw it happen. Mrs. Crouch said when she looked up, the sky was clear, and if vultures were vomiting enough meat to scatter across a football field, Mrs. Crouch presumably would have seen vultures overhead.

The Kentucky Meat Shower is not a historical event taught in classrooms, but there is a children’s book about it, and no, it’s not “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

Poland sick cow slaughterhouse: Meat from closed abattoir ‘sold to nine EU countries’

Secret filming by broadcaster TVN revealed the unwell animals being killed at a slaughterhouse situated 112km east of Warsaw.

Chris Harris of Euronews reports meat from the abattoir went to Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

“The priority today is to trace and withdraw from the market all the products originated from this slaughterhouse,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU commissioner responsible for food safety said in a statement.

“I call on the member states affected to take swift action.

“At the same time, I urge the Polish authorities to finalise as a matter of urgency their investigations, taking all the necessary measures to ensure the respect of the EU legislation including effective, rapid and dissuasive penalties against the perpetrators of such a criminal behaviour that could pose risk to public health and portrays an unacceptable treatment of animals.”

Polish police are investigating after the secret footage appeared to show sick cows dragged into the slaughterhouse and sold with little or no veterinary inspection.

Authorities reacted to the scandal by imposing controls in Polish abattoirs.

“This is the problem of just one company. It is unpleasant, and it is worth stigmatising.

“Fortunately, it is a small slaughterhouse and the other 99.9% of meat processing plants are good,” said Janusz Rodziewicz, head of meats lobby SRiWRP.

But Patryk Szczepaniak, the reporter who uncovered the scandal, said it was a nationwide problem.

Poland produces about 560,000 tonnes of beef a year, with 85% exported to countries including Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Food fraud: Raids in Spain uncover expired meats about to be placed back on the market

Javier Arroyo of El Pais reports that Spain’s National Police and Civil Guard have seized hundreds of tons of expired jamón and other meat products that were about to be placed back in the market – in some cases, they were already back on sale.

In three separate raids conducted over the course of a few weeks, officers found that individuals and companies were apparently tampering with seals and labels to extend the shelf life of expired food products.

Sources at the Civil Guard and the Health Ministry said that the operations were independent from each other, but that further investigation is being conducted to determine whether there is a link between the cases.

The problem is no longer about lower-quality ham being passed off as gourmet or “pata negra,” a designation used for top pork products. This has been a more or less habitual scam that producers of real Iberian meats have been trying to eliminate through quality regulations established in 2014, as well as seals indicating the animal’s breed and feeding method.

This latest fraud involves taking expired food products that should legally be destroyed, altering their labels, and putting them back on the market.

The role of meat in foodborne disease

Meat has featured prominently as a source of foodborne disease and a public health concern. For about the past 20 years the risk management paradigm has dominated international thinking about food safety. Control through the supply chain is supported by risk management concepts, as the public health risk at the point of consumption becomes the accepted outcome-based measure.

Foodborne pathogens can be detected at several points in the supply chain and determining the source of where these pathogens arise and how they behave throughout meat production and processing are important parts of risk-based approaches. Recent improvements in molecular and genetic based technologies and data analysis for investigating source attribution and pathogen behaviour have enabled greater insights into how foodborne outbreaks occur and where controls can be implemented. These new approaches will improve our understanding of the role of meat in foodborne disease and are expected to have a significant impact on our understanding in the next few years.

The role of meat in foodborne disease: Is there a coming revolution in risk assessment and management?

Meat Science

Narelle Fega, Ian Jenson

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2018.04.018

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174018300731

8 dead, 25 hospitalized from trichinellosis in Cambodia

Cambodia’s Ministry of Health confirmed on Tuesday an outbreak of Trichinellosis in an area in central Kampong Thom province that has left eight people dead and 25 others hospitalized.

In its statement, the ministry said 33 villagers living in Prey Long (forest) area in Sandan district had fallen ill earlier this month, about three weeks after they ate contaminated wild meat that was undercooked, and eight of them had subsequently died in recent weeks.

“The samples of 3 patients’ muscle tissue were tested by the Calmette Hospital’s laboratory and the result confirmed that there were Trichinella larvae in their muscle tissue,” the statement said.

It added that another test on the blood samples from other nine patients by a Vietnamese hospital’s laboratory confirmed that “there were eggs of Trichinalla worms” in their blood.

Cambodian Minister of Health Mam Bunheng said,  “I’d like to appeal to the people to stop eating raw or undercooked meat in order to prevent themselves from infecting Trichinellosis and other diseases.”

 

Possum, donkey, horse meat could be on the menu as South Australia considers national code

Mmmm. Camel meat.

Possum, donkey and horse could be on the menu in South Australia if the definition of game meat is expanded under proposed amendments to food regulations by SA Health.

possum-baby-nov-11Goat, 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.

Some of these less common game meats are already allowed interstate and an abattoir at Peterborough in SA’s Mid North has been exporting camel meat for several years.

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.

S. Korean men investigated after eating missing sheepdog

South Korean police say they are investigating accusations that four men killed someone’s missing sheepdog before eating it in a case that has infuriated many and caused debate on the country’s dog-eating culture.

sam-sheepdog-wolfPolice official Choi Won-kyu, from the rural city of Iksan, said Friday the men admitted to butchering and eating the dog but they said they found it dead on the side of the road.

Choi says a witness claimed seeing the dog hurt but alive hours before the men butchered it.

Although the popularity of eating dog meat is fading somewhat in South Korea, an estimated 2 million dogs are still slaughtered every year for food.

 

Gary Acuff on process validation

Gary Acuff is the antithesis of Hunter S. Thompson.

acuff2007Champan and I call him the nicest guy in food safety, but who knows — everyone in those U.S. college towns acts like they came from an audition for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, or Blue Velvet.

My friend Gary, a Texas A&M professor of food microbiology, got a nice write-up in MeatingPlace about the importance of validation.

His research has focused on improving the microbiological quality and safety of red meat in all areas of production and utilization. Most recent activities have centered on the effective use of surrogate bacteria for validating process controls in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems.

Meatingplace sat down with Acuff after he addressed this year’s Food Safety Summit in Rosemont, Ill.

Meatingplace: What are some of the biggest challenges these processors face in validating their food safety processes?

ACUFF: Maybe the biggest challenge is getting their arms around it because they are convinced that their process works or they wouldn’t be doing it. A typical response is to show negative product samples, but that doesn’t prove your process is working; it just proves that you had a lot of negative samples. Validation is taking a deeper step to actually find the data or generate the data to prove that their process does exactly what they say it is doing. And that’s been difficult for people to start thinking about how to do that.

The next hardest concept becomes not having enough pathogen on their product to show a three-log kill. The answer is, we know you don’t have three logs on there, but we want to know what your process would do if you did have three logs because some day three logs may show up.

Meatingplace: What is the appropriate use of the scientific literature in terms of the validation process?

ACUFF: The scientific literature should be where you start. That’s what you pull out and say, “It looks like we can do something like this and add some control to our process.” I’m not sure that you can take it much further than that.

Meatingplace: When are microbiological studies from laboratories useful and when are they dangerous?

ACUFF: It’s another step. You have the scientific literature. Now you want to try and apply that to your process. If you take that scientific literature and go straight out to the process then you’re going to have a lot of hits and misses before you are successful. But if you do a challenge study in the laboratory you can actually use the pathogen so that gives you even stronger data because you’re looking at the behavior of the pathogen. At the same time, you can run the surrogate organisms parallel to that and use that data to reflect or extrapolate when you use the surrogate in your process.

log-lady

 

1000 tons of meat seized in South China some ‘soaked in bleach’

Police in China’s southern province of Guangdong have seized $12.3 million of potentially hazardous frozen meat including some reportedly soaked in bleach.

goodfellas-body-meat-freezer-09Sixteen suspects were detained in the raid late last week, say local police, who uncovered 1,000 tons meat and offal — chiefly from the U.S., Brazil and Thailand — on a vessel near Dangan Island by the city of Shenzhen.

“A criminal gang that used to smuggle frozen meat products, along with marine smuggling channel in Guangdong waters, were busted in the crackdown,” said a police statement, reports the state-backed China Daily newspaper.

Police said some of the haul — including beef cuts, tripe, tongue and chicken wings — had been soaked in bleach in order to clean the meat and increase its weight. A kilogram of beef weighs more than 1.5 kg after soaking in highly toxic bleach, said police, warning that the doctored meat would have “seriously harmed people’s health.”

 

Q fever outbreak in Melbourne’s west

Julia Medew of The Age reports that health officials are investigating an outbreak of a rare and potentially serious infectious disease among meat workers in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

q.feverPeople working in and around Vic Wide Meat Brokers and W J Drever in Laverton North are being tested for Q fever after six employees of the two meat businesses fell ill with it.

Other staff working at the site and at similar businesses nearby are now being contacted to ensure they are vaccinated against the disease which usually produces flu-like symptoms and can cause pneumonia and liver inflammation. While only half of all people infected with it get symptoms, it is fatal for one to two per cent of those people.

The Victorian department of health is now writing to contractors who may have visited the site since late last year to provide them with advice about signs and symptoms. The businesses are located at 9 Holcourt Road in Laverton North.

“Both the Department and WorkSafe officials have visited and inspected the premises to check on the vaccination status of other staff, and arrange testing and vaccinations, as required,” said Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest. “At this stage there is no broader public health issue as our investigation shows all exposures have been confined to the site and have occurred in the workplace.”