Don’t slaughter goats in restaurant kitchens and don’t store 148 goat carcasses in a van

Courthouse News Service reports today:

A Texas state trooper found 148 goat carcasses stacked inside Halal Import Food Market’s unrefrigerated van and ordered it to Halal’s warehouse to be inspected, where health inspectors found that 102 dead goats and boxes of organs had mysteriously disappeared in transit, the state says.

The state believes that Zamzam Supermarket and World Food Market received the missing meats, according to the complaint in Tarrant County Court.

The somewhat nauseating complaint describes Halal’s warehouse as filthy, with "dead birds and bird droppings on food products … live birds flying around warehouse and resting on food products," trash piled 6 feet deep in places, "numerous dead rodents, numerous rodent droppings along with gnawed materials and debris," meat rotting on a grinder, "various uncovered and exposed foods in direct contact with wet floor along with debris and trash in produce/dairy cooler," and "cigarette butts, rotting fruit, peels, partially eaten chicken and other food" around the warehouse.

The goat carcasses bore no stamps showing that they were from inspected sourced, and the carcasses in the van were touching "seatbelts, peeling and fraying fabric overhead from van ceiling, and a rusty van floor," the state says.


25 Chicago students arrested for a middle-school food fight

The cafeteria food fight, as immortalized in the 1978 film, Animal House, has become a high school rite of passage.

Except in Chicago (home to John Belushi, right)

The New York Times reports this morning that 25  students, ages 11 to 15, were rounded up, arrested, taken from school and put in jail on charges of reckless conduct, a misdemeanor, after a food fight at the middle-school campus of Perspectives Charter Schools, in the Gresham neighborhood on the South Side.

That was last Thursday afternoon. Now parents are questioning what seem to them like the criminalization of age-old adolescent pranks, and the lasting legal and psychological impact of the arrests.

“My children have to appear in court,” Erica Russell, the mother of two eighth-grade girls who spent eight hours in jail, said Tuesday. “They were handcuffed, slammed in a wagon, had their mug shots taken and treated like real criminals.”


Food safety Bill passes House – will it mean fewer sick people?

While the websphere, blogsphere and twittersphere were ejaculating electrons about the potential passage of new food safety legislation by the U.S. House– it passed — I was hanging out with some food safety dudes at Publix supermarkets HQ in Lakeland, Florida.

And I saw far more in Lakeland that would impact daily food safety than anything the politicians, bureaucrats, hangers-on and chatting classes could ever come up with.

When it comes to the safety of the food supply, I generally ignore the chatter from Washington, as well as the wasted Internet commentaries and conspiracy theories. If a proposal does emerge, such as the creation of a single food inspection agency, or the bill that passed the House today – and just the House — I ask, Will it actually make food safer? Will fewer people get sick?

As the General Accounting Office pointed out in a report a year ago,

“The burden for food safety in most of the selected countries lies primarily with food producers, rather than with inspectors, although inspectors play an active role in overseeing compliance. This principle applies to both domestic and imported products.”

Publix, with over 1,000 supermarkets, its own processing plants, and thousands of food products moving through its shelves, can’t afford the luxury of chatter.

After my visit, I went to the local Publix in St. Pete Beach to check out what the food safety type said – sure, the boss knows food safety, but do the front-line staff?

I ordered some shaved smoked turkey breast from the deli, and the sealable bag the meat was delivered in contained the following:

“Publix Deli
The Publix Deli is committed to the highest quality fresh cold cuts & cheeses
Therefore we recommend all cold cuts are best if used within three days of purchase
And all cheese items are best if used within four days of purchase”

(The picture isn’t very good. Note to Publix: The label warning about shelf-life is a great idea, but can’t read it if the price sticker gets slapped over some of the text.)

This is the first time I’ve seen a retailer provide information to consumers on the accurate shelf-life of sliced deli meats. It didn’t require Congressional hearings; it didn’t require some hopelessly-flawed consumer education campaign; it required a food safety type to say, this is important, let’s do it.

I also went looking for some bread for turkey sandwiches tomorrow as we move down to Sarasota, and then Venice Beach. I asked an employee in the bakery for some whole wheat rolls, and she pointed out what was available, said packages of six were pre-packaged, but she could get me whatever number I wanted. I asked for four. There was no bin for me to stick my who-knows-where-they-have-been hands in to and retrieve a few rolls. The bins were turned so that only staff had access. The employee said it had been that way since she started three years ago, and that “there’s just too much stuff going around” to let consumers stick their hands into bun bins (most commonly found item in communal bun bins? False fingernails).

It’s nice that food safety is once again a Presidential priority and that politicians are trying to set a tone. But chatting doesn’t mean fewer sick people – actions do.

Wienermobile enters home, wasn’t invited

Although it’s National Hot Dog month, it’s been a lousy couple of weeks for Oscar Mayer.

On July 7, 2009, Oscar G. Mayer, retired chairman of the Wisconsin-based meat processing company that bears his name, died at the age of 95.

He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods, which was once the largest private employer in Madison. His grandfather, Oscar F. Mayer, died in 1955 and his father, Oscar G. Mayer Sr., died in 1965.

Mayer retired as chairman of the board in 1977 at age 62 soon after the company recorded its first $1 billion year. The company was later sold to General Foods and is now a business unit of Kraft.

Besides the actual hot dogs, Oscar Mayer is well-known for its Wienermobile. Amy saw it once on the back roads of Missouri. My kids had the plastic replicas (thanks, John).

Yesterday, Wienermobile was turning around in a Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, driveway, about 35 miles south of Milwaukee. The driver thought her wiener was in reverse but it was in drive. No one was home and no one was injured. No citations were immediately issued.

Ontario grocer fined for mice in warehouse

The Toronto Star is reporting that the owners of Ontario’s second largest supermarket chain, A&P, have been fined $15,625 after pleading guilty in provincial offences court to a charge of failing to prevent a rodent infestation.

A City of Toronto health inspector laid the charge after finding the A&P warehouse in the west end was overrun with mice last fall.

The warehouse, which serves 250 Dominion, A&P and Food Basics stores in Ontario, was closed for two days in September while the problem was cleared up.

‘Mr. Toilet’ and his latest creation

Today’s the, The USA Today, reports that in South Korea, Sim Jae-duck has earned the moniker "Mr. Toilet" for his work in beautifying public restrooms.

Now, though, he’s taken his work to a whole new level.

Jae-duck is building a toilet-shaped house (complete with a luxury lavatory) just in time for the World Toilet Association conference this month in Seoul, South Korea.