Vilsack says industry should learn from pink slime

The U.S. ag secretary says pink slime is a “lesson” for meat companies about the power of social media.

This is why producers and processors should not tie their brand to government.

Social media allow the amplification of a risk issue to be accelerated, but the underlying faults that created the risk scenario remain the same – whether transmitted through Intertubes, paper or Aristotle’s aether.

Decades of food safety issues have revealed that communication is important, but must be coupled with risk assessment and management; fail at any of these components, and there will be losses.

As reported by, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a conference call with the media Thursday that the storm over lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is, “a good wake-up call for food companies generally, that when there is an effort that uses the social media effectively, there has to be a rapid and specific and quick and comprehensive response. Hopefully that is a lesson that all food companies throughout the United States have learned.”

US Ag Secretary tries to temp a hamburger

Who demonstrates temping a hamburger with oversized novelty thermometers, indoors, with the hamburger patty already encased with all the condiments and a bun?

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

That’s Vilsack, below, in a picture the USDA communication types decided to twitter with the tweet, “Which burger is a safe 165F? Sec Vilsack tests the temp w/ a food therm on #USDAFSDZ, Dr. Hagen watches.”

I want to see Sec. Vilsack temping hamburger patties at a grill, using tongs and a real tip-sensitive, digital thermometer, wearing a kiss-the-cook apron and a Herb-Tarlek grin.

Or a Mr. Bubble shirt.


Egg recall: Mouse, fly infestations date back 10 years, workers say

Just like with the salmonella outbreak involving Peanut Corporation of America, employees of DeCoster egg operations in Iowa are now coming forward to say problems with mice, filth and flies go back at least 10 years.

Past and present workers at Wright County Egg said mouse and fly infestations cited in a federal report stretch back at least a decade.?? The workers also reported ammonia levels high enough to cause chronic health problems, and inconsistent availability of safety equipment such as face masks and gloves.

Dozens of chickens died daily, their bodies lying undiscovered in cages for days, and perhaps weeks, at a time, they said.?? "There’s always been mice," former worker Lucas Garcias said through an interpreter. "I saw maggots and sometimes mice on the conveyor belt.”

And who was governor of Iowa during those years? Step forward current U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack.

Philip Brasher of the also writes today the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is taking a second look at its authority over the Galt feed mill that supplied the DeCoster egg operations. The state agency had decided before the massive egg recall linked to the DeCoster farms that the feed mill was exempt from state oversight. Company officials told inspectors that the DeCoster-owned mill only supplied the company’s hens. That exemption has been called into question by news that the mill was supplying feed to a second company, Hillandale Farms of Iowa, that was also involved in the recall.

Vilsack is Obama’s agriculture secretary – my kid farted

My kid just had this huge dump. Or a huge fart. Amy and I walked around in the snow this afternoon in our own sustainable transportation way, and when we got home I was holding her in the living room, and she passed gas for a good 30 seconds.

It was awesome.

I wouldn’t be much of a new parent if I didn’t talk about my kid’s bowel movements. And all this talk about the so-called sutainable ag community wanting some food porn type to be the agriculture secretary has me focused on baby farts.

Bob and Angelique brought us dinner and hung out – much better than baby wresting in a restaurant – and we were watching some Flight of the Conchords reruns. Murray the Manager had a poster in his office that said, New Zealand: Don’t expect too much and you will love it.

That’s how I feel about government appointments. Sure a political appointment can set a tone, make a fashion statement, but it’s not really going to change anything. And why wait for government – if you want to change something, go do it.