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.

Possum pesticide: Blackmailers threaten to poison New Zealand infant milk formula

A blackmail threat to poison baby formula is a form of “eco-terrorism” says New Zealand’s prime minister John Key.

possum.baby.nov.11New Zealand police are currently investigating blackmail threats made against dairy processor Fonterra.

The threats were made as part of a campaign to stop the use of agricultural pesticide 1080 in New Zealand.

New Zealand police said that anonymous letters were received by Federated Farmers and Fonterra in November 2014, accompanied by small packages of milk powder, which subsequently tested positive for the presence of a concentrated form of 1080.

The letters threatened to contaminate infant and other formula with 1080 (sodium monoflouroacetate) unless New Zealand stopped using it for pest control by the end of March 2015.

“We have tested just over 40,000 raw milk and product samples and we have had no 1080 detections,” said a statement from the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries.

Asked how he would characterise the threat, Mr Key replied: “It’s a form of eco-terrorism without doubt.

Authorities warned parents to examine packaging for signs of tampering and supermarkets removed formula cans from shelves to storerooms so shoppers could not access them directly.

baby_formulaDeputy Commissioner of National Operations with NZ Police, Mike Clement, said the threat may be a hoax, but must be treated seriously.

He said no further letters had been received after the initial batch and the matter was being treated as blackmail rather than terrorism.

President of New Zealand’s peak farming body, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (FFNZ), William Rolleston, said he was confident security measures at the country’s milk processing plants were rigorous.

“I would say that it would probably be easier to break out of prison, than to break into one of these factories and do anything, the security is pretty tight.” Dr Rolleston said.

He said he believed his organisation was targeted by the anonymous letter writer due to their support for the use of 1080 to control possum populations.

“Unlike you guys in Australia who protect your possums, they are not a welcome visitor here I’m afraid.

“We do endorse the use of 1080, it’s a highly effective and safe product when used properly and it’s biodegradable, so it breaks down in the environment very quickly, it doesn’t have an impact on our native species, so it’s a very good toxin to use for dealing with what is a major issue for New Zealand.”

The New Zealand government has additional information at http://www.foodprotection.govt.nz/

How about possums? Raccoon meat for sale at L.A. supermarket, store under investigation

An Asian supermarket in Temple City has come under fire for selling dead raccoons after a video circulated on social media showed bodies of the animals in the frozen meat section.

racoonChristina Dow posted the video she filmed Monday at Metro Supermarket in the 4800 block of Temple City Boulevard, showing the frozen raccoons in plastic bags along with packages of meat and fish. Dow pleaded with her Facebook followers to share the video.

According to Dow’s Facebook page, she found seven to eight “freshly slaughtered raccoons” inside the supermarket freezer. She noted the dead raccoons were fully intact and the fur bloody.

“Is this right or what?” she says on the video.

The raccoons were apparently sold for $9.99 per pound. One particular raccoon was sold for roughly $54.

An employee at the supermarket told the Los Angeles Times that health inspectors had hauled out their supply of dead raccoons on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department would not confirm whether it removed the dead raccoons.

But it said the department was investigating.

According to the department, a raccoon would be considered a “game animal” under the California Health and Safety Code and could be sold.

But it could be sold only if it’s from an approved source and is not considered an endangered or threatened animal by the Department of Fish & Game.

The supermarket employee, who declined to give his name, said the owner of the supermarket is avoiding media calls.

Along with selling exotic meats, the 12,000-square-foot Chinese supermarket has its own farm, delivering vegetables and fruit daily, according to its website.

Australian possum study sheds light on epidemics

I often awake about 3:30 Australian time to the sound of possums raping each other in the trees.

possum.baby.nov.11A new study from the Australian National University concludes that the way bacteria transfer between possums may offer some insight into the spread of human epidemics.

Scientists (ANU) looked at how social interactions between mountain brushtail possums influenced the transfer of the bacterium, Escherichia coli.

Surprisingly they found it was not just how much time the possums spent in contact with each other that determined the spread of E. coli, but rather what they were doing when they interacted.

“We originally started out thinking daytime den sharing would be important and that disease transfer might be a reason why individuals in some populations were less likely to share dens,” says lead researcher Dr Michaela Blyton.

“But then we found that it is actually the night time foraging interactions that were more important.”

E. coli is typically thought of as an environmental pathogen that is spread through ingestion of water or food that has been contaminated by faeces. But Blyton says the results, appearing in the journal Ecology Letters, indicate social interactions also play an important role.

“It suggests that the close contact of those individual possums facilitates transfer more than just the environment itself.”

Yes, close interaction.

1954 cookbook: how to cook possum in America

We moved into a new place in Brisbane and the concrete and stucco of vertical intensification are less welcoming to the possum population than the timber of a traditional Queenslander (that’s what they call the houses).

But the possums will figure it out.

The other night about 2:30 a.m. I saw a little one run across the cedar boundary fence. Next day, I spotted it sleeping in the neighboring tree.

They’re coming.

The arrival of my backyard composter will only whet their desire and soon there will be possum crap over everything.

New Zealanders poison possums, Aussies treasure them. Americans eat them.

This recipe comes from 1954’s The American Family Cook Book.

Plunge animal into very hot but not boiling water for 2 minutes.

Pull out or scrape off hair without damaging skin. Slit belly from throat to hind legs. Remove entrails, feet, eyes and brains. Do not remove head or tail.

Wash thoroughly. If possible, freeze for 3 or 4 days. When ready to cook, wipe with a cold, damp cloth. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in roasting pan. Put in one cup of water and juice of one lemon.

Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 15 minutes, turning once. Cover. Reduce heat and bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Bring your best, possums.

Possum drinking game has staff spewing

In 2006, Keith Richards fell out of a coconut tree.

The Rolling Stones guitarist was hanging in Fiji during a world tour, and subsequently had to be flown back to a New Zealand hospital for observation after suffering a concussion.

Maybe Keith was playing possum.

According to Fairfax NZ News, possum involves a group of people drinking a 24-pack of beer while up a tree. The first one to fall out from drunkenness loses the game.

Dunedin City Council gardens and cemeteries team leader Alan Matchett said people, believed mostly to bestudents, played the game at the gardens in the afternoons and early evenings, during the week and at weekends.

Staff were fed up with the mess left behind, which included glass, food scraps and cans – and vomit.

"It’s been occurring fairly regularly for the last two or three years. We don’t usually see them, but police and Otago University campus watch staff have had to move people on from the park and told them to clean up their mess," Matchett said.

"What they drink has to come out again, so they do throw up and urinate from the trees. Obviously, it’s not nice to have that left behind."

Thanksgiving possum

 We opted for a low-key Thanksgiving last night (today in the U.S. is tomorrow in Australia) with steak, prawns, mushrooms, potatoes, homemade rolls and, in a nod to our favorite American holiday, glazed carrots.

Although summer officially begins next week with temperatures in the humid 80s (F, 27s C) it gets dark about 6:30 p.m. because there’s no such thing as daylight savings in Queensland. Windows and doors are usually kept open to capture summer breezes, but closed as the nocturnal wildlife emerges at dusk.

I was slow.

Finishing a final prawn, a possum scampered by the patio door but instead of entering the dining area, high-tailed it across the deck and dove into a tree.

Those possums look cute but can be nasty. Two women in Tasmania became ill this year with tularaemia, in both cases linked to possum bites, the first time that strain of the disease had been found in the southern hemisphere.

Public Health Director Roscoe Taylor said there was a very small risk the disease could be spread through tank water.

"In theory, wildlife feces can accumulate on a roof and get flushed into your rainwater tank. But we believe the risk of getting tularaemia this way to be very low. Water treated with chlorine is safe to drink.”

Possums and zoonoses; should I worry?

I awoke at 1:20 a.m. to the sound of two possums apparently raping each other.

They prefer to do it on the tin roofs that grace the homes in Brisbane.

It’s not like cats in Kansas, it’s louder and sounds more violent.

But they’re so cute.

A helicopter sounded like it was investigating the possum-love and about to land on the roof; then a train went by; then another helicopter.

My semi-toilet-friendly daughter interrupted another night of Blade-Runner lite with an exceedingly wet bed.

I did laundry; at 3 a.m.

The Queenslander style of house favored by Brisbanites is on wooden stilts (because the river has a 100-year flood every 30 years) with a large balcony to capture cool breezes. Washing machines and clotheslines are on the balcony.

So are possums.

The possums piss and crap everywhere, every night, and are fearless: they will run into the house if the balcony door and several windows are not strategically closed.

Anyone know of zoonotic possum diseases I should be concerned about?