vegansaurus!

10/18/2012

Massive peanut recall! Check your foods!  »


Right now might be the only time ever that folks with peanut allergies are looking at the rest of us thinking, “Haha, suckers!” If you haven’t heard, there’s a massive peanut recall afoot, and it affects a lot of fancy vegan peanut products.

A whole bunch of products made in by Sunland, Inc between March 2010 and Sept. 24, 2012, might be infected with salmonella! So far 35 people in 19 states have gotten sick, and the FDA and CDC are all over it. TWO YEARS worth of products? WTF, Sunland?!

The full list of recalled products is on the FDA’s website, but here are some that vegans are likely to have bought! If you’ve got these in your cupboard, either just chuck them or go to the FDA site for more details if that seems wasteful! The good news is unless you’re a tiny child (nice work reading the blog!) or real old or have a compromised immune system, salmonella isn’t too serious.

  • Trader Joe’s, Arrowhead Mills, Cadia, Kirkland, Natural Value, Naturally More, Sprout’s, & Sun Harvest peanut butter
  • Sprout’s tahini & almond butter
  • Justin’s Nut Butters—anything with peanuts!
  • Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor
  • Peanut Butter Newman-O’s (yes, they’re vegan)
  • Earth Balance Natural Almond Butter and Flaxseed
  • Anything with the Sunland name on it
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!!

[Photo by Yogma via Flickr]

08/19/2011

Your government hates you: meat recalls forever  »

What is going on with meat inspection? In the past month, there’ve been seven recalls due to listeria contamination, three because of E. coli, and three for salmonella, nearly 36,723,700 pounds of food, almost of it meat. The number’s sort of enormous thanks to Cargill’s recall of 36 million pounds of “ground turkey products” on Aug. 3 because of salmonella contamination. Disgusting.

How does this contamination even happen? The Centers for Disease Control have a section on food-borne illnesses that’s pretty helpful, though their explanation for how foods become contaminated isn’t super-illuminating:

Many foodborne microbes are present in healthy animals (usually in their intestines) raised for food. Meat and poultry carcasses can become contaminated during slaughter by contact with small amounts of intestinal contents. Similarly, fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed or irrigated with water that is contaminated with animal manure or human sewage.

Right, we know that, CDC. It’d be nice to know how the shit-water gets to the produce, or how the carcasses come into “contact with small amounts” of unexpressed poop. Over a century since The Jungle exposed the horrible conditions of the meatpacking industry and people are still getting shit teeming with bacteria in our food. You think after another 100 years the agriculture industry will stop making us sick?

07/28/2011

Your government hates you: big fat fucking meat recall  »

A company from Cincinnati, Ohio called Tri-State Beef has issued a recall on nearly 229,000 pounds of ground beef because it “may be contaminated” with our old friend E. coli 0157:H7. That is over a quarter-million pounds of ground beef!

A company in Miami, Fla. called Northwestern Meat, Inc. has issued a recall on over 6,000 pounds of “frozen boneless beef products” because they tested positive for Ivermectin. Ivermectin is “a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic and is used as a de-worming agent in live animals,” and river blindness in “the Americas.” It can cause neurotoxicity. The “beef products” in question were imported from Honduras.

Both these companies had had their products inspected by federal agents before distribution to retail outlets. Your government is hard at work, protecting us citizens from—well, not E. coli or veterinary medication. Something important, surely.

02/04/2011

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for this week’s charmingly lunacy-tinged link-o-rama!  »


Awwww! I know it’s the Daily Mail (UGH) but just read this story about Louie the obstacle-course-mastering pig and then close the tab. It’s a good story!

This week we’re still serving our U.S. citizens terrible lunches, while they’re getting huge full meals in other countries. Hot-stuff vegan Ted Leo talked to Eater about his awesome eating life, answering the idiotic question: “So do you consider yourself a strict vegan then or a little more ‘a la carte’ with your vegan choices?” by stating that, “Yeah… I wouldn’t say I was vegan if I was a la carte.” We love a man with principles. And a few eye-wrinkles, swoon. Or how about an athlete: Richard Adams went vegan after one visit to the animals at Farm Sanctuary, and now competes in crazy -lons/-thons to raise money for them!

Classic FDA/USDA recalls this week. First, cilantro sold under the labels Nature’s Reward, Ocean Mist, Tanimura & Antle, and Queen Victoria is being recalled because, oopsie, it’s all full of salmonella! Thanks, Sabor Farms of Salinas, Calif.! Second, “All Toxic Waste® Brand Nuclear Sludge® Products All Flavors And All Sizes” have been recalled because of elevated levels of lead! Who would have thought? At least the whale meat in Japan is free of lethal contaminants! Probably local, too, unlike every fish served at nearly every Bay Area restaurant, whoops. I wonder what ol’ Michael “don’t eat a lot of meat! unless it’s me, in which case, every week is Meat Week!" Pollan would say about eating insects—aren’t they totally local and sustainable? Well, one out of two. Chefs in London won’t be using shark fins in their dishes anymore, so there’s one win this week.

If you’re concerned about food for moral issues, definitely take a look at Salon’s guide to egg labeling—it’s informative! Megan Rascal’s scary pig cartoon is helping a vegan mom teach her kid about preventing animal cruelty. This Government Office of Accountability report on the F.D.A.’s total ineffectiveness at enforcing the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, despite being totally unsurprising, is really depressing, what with the egregious animal abuse inspectors aren’t stopping and all. Neat! It’s neat how in April 2010 a company working through Outdoor Adventures “euthanized,” meaning brutally murdered, somewhere between 70 and 100 sled dogs they no longer had use for post-driving-tourists-around-on-sleds season. Guess they didn’t need them for the Iditarod! Chinese families don’t need the pet rabbits they’re buying in celebration of the new year, the Year of the Rabbit, but they’re buying them anyway! Hey, just like dumbasses in the U.S. at Easter, only the article about it is full of racist puns as well as rabbit jokes. Mutts, though, Mutts is funny. Let’s read this 1996 interview with Patrick McDonnell and actually laugh.

[photo via the Daily Mail]

01/27/2011

Your government hates you: recalls and “hot” milk!  »

Do NOT eat packaged leafy greens if you live, like, anywhere on the East Coast right now; some listeria got into Massachusetts’ State Garden’s manufacturing plant and wowza, there are so many brands that could sicken you, it’s scary!

More ground beef is out to get you, too: nearly 8,000 pounds of “Fully Cooked Black Angus Ground Beef Steak Patties” are also lousy with listeria; thanks, United Food Group, LLC (UFG) of Vernon, Calif.! Oh man, it gets better: These “patties” were produced on Oct. 11 last year, an inspection discovered they were all listeria-ful, and UFG shipped them anyway! Whoops!

Listeria is the choice for food-poisoning right now, it seems; almost 500 boxes of “Wheat Free, Gluten Free Mac and No Cheese” and “Wheat Free, Gluten Free French Bread Pizza” from Ian’s may be contaminated with the little buggers right now! When food safety standards are lax—and I mean, farm-to-shopping-cart safety standards—everyone suffers, even the Celiacs and the vegans.

The standards are super-lax, too: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so little power to regulate anything, the only reason every one of us eating food in the U.S. hasn’t been poisoned by it yet is absolute luck. Used-up dairy cows are sold to slaughter for human consumption without being subjected to the same tests your standard food-cows are, and these cows are full of antibiotics, like, illegally full of them, tee hee! The dairy industry, however, refuses to “allow” any further testing of any of the milk or milk products, and as the FDA is about as strong as A VERY WEAK THING, it can’t make the producers submit to these tests. HA HA HA your milk is full of substances that will kill you!

Of course the FDA gets to test your milk, and annually “only a small number of truckloads are found to be ‘hot milk,’ containing trace amounts of antibiotics.” Then that milk is “destroyed”—whatever “destroyed” means, it’s not like pouring it down the proverbial drain disappears the antibiotics from the world—and all the milk-drinkers can breathe easy. Except that the dairy farmers are actually injecting their cows with oodles of drugs the FDA doesn’t test for! Because the law doesn’t require it! Because dairy industry lobbyists use their massive amounts of cash to “convince” our elected officials to eat a cheese sandwich and keep mum!

But, you know, drink your milk or you won’t grow up big and strong/lose all the calcium in your skeleton/fade away from dairy product deprivation. You can just die of a minor infection because the bacteria were resistant to every antibiotic known to modern medicine, you’ll just do it super-full of cheese. Definitely a good trade-off. The vegans will just suffer the fever and chills of listeria poisoning, no big deal.

[photo of Percy from SAINTS by Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals]

11/29/2010

Artisan cheesemakers: Don’t hold us to FDA standards! A little listeriosis is fine!  »

It’s the retort of many a locavore/slow-foodie: “But I only eat meat/dairy/eggs from small, usually local producers who produce it ethically and safely.” There are a million reasons that that isn’t true, but most of them take a long time to explain, and people won’t agree with you anyway, so I’m happy (sort of) to report that today, finally, we can just say, “oh yeah?”

As it turns out, “small, local, artisan” food is no guarantee of either quality, safety, or a caring producer, looking out for his/her customers. The New York Times ran an article the other day about the Estrella Family Creamery, and their defiance of the FDA. The people at Estrella make artisan cheese. They make it in relatively small batches, and then (sustainably, one assumes) ship it all over the U.S. to snooty restaurants where people who really care pay lots of money for it, eat it, and feel superior—before they start to feel sick.

You see, in February 2010, F.D.A. inspectors found listeria in Estrella’s cheese, and all over the building where the cheese is produced and aged, including in the humidifier that blows air all over the production and aging area. Gross. Kelli Estrella, owner and principal cheesemaker at Estrella, recalled some cheese and cleaned the production facility. Later, follow-up tests by the F.D.A. showed there was still listeria in Estrella cheese. Listeriosis causes fever and muscle aches and vomiting. Nausea and diarrhea are less common symptoms. If the infection spreads to the nervous system it can cause meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. It can also cause miscarriages.

This time, though, Kelli Estrella’s fighting back. She refuses to throw out the contaminated cheese, saying essentially that regulators should go after bigger operations and leave small producers like hers alone—despite, apparently, the fact that her small operation has now twice tested positive for a bacteria that can cause serious illnesses. It turns out this kind of entitled attitude is pretty common among artisan cheesemakers, which isn’t all that surprising considering that it’s also pretty common for them to fail their inspections. In the last year, nine small cheesemakers have had to recall their products due to contamination. From the Times:

“If the F.D.A. wanted to shut down the U.S. artisan cheese industry, all they’d have to do is do this environmental surveillance and the odds of finding a pathogen would be pretty great,” said Catherine W. Donnelly, co-director of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese of the University of Vermont, referring to the listeria testing at cheese plants.

So, wait, WHAT? Artisan cheesemakers think they should be exempt from the standards imposed on all other producers, even as they admit that most artisan cheese is probably contaminated with something gross? How does that make any sense at all? Yeah, yeah, you’re all raw-milk crusaders, and we should be allowed to put whatever the damn hell we want in our mouths, and blah, blah, blah, but come on! You are really fighting for your down-home, small-batch right to sell a product that you know is contaminated with a dangerous bacteria?

OK, small, artisan cheesemakers, let me tell you about how food contamination works. I’m not a microbiologist, but I’ve taken a food safety class and had a whole glass of wine, so I think I’m qualified, particularly given how you guys all apparently interpret it. First, bacteria doesn’t give a shit whether you are a faceless corporation or a chock-full-o-personality-and-gumption artisan. Second, bacteria doesn’t give a shit if your customers are wealthier foodie assholes as opposed to poorer, food-desert nomads; they will get EQUALLY SICK—though I suppose you could argue that your rich foodie customers probably have more money for doctors and so are less likely to die from the listeriosis they contract from your artisan cheese. Third, bacterial contamination (particularly by bacteria that causes fever, vomiting, and MISCARRIAGES) is bad! It’s not folksy or character-building. It’s bad! It’s also gross! In sum, artisan cheesemakers, your failing inspection grades are neither government persecution nor badges of honor. Food safety regulations are important because it’s important to NOT KILL PEOPLE WHO EAT YOUR FOOD.

Reading this whinefest made me wonder how many other “artisan” food producers think they should be exempted from food safety regulations. I’d sure think twice before putting that “small batch” brie in my mouth.

11/24/2010

Pre-Thanksgiving food recalls for best tableside conversation  »

Which government administrations love you, baby? Yeah, the FDA and the USDA, that’s right. Hence they’ve released these four recall notices just before Thanksgiving to keep you from spending the long weekend in bed, or heaven forbid the hospital. Hooray!

First, Krunchers! Inc. recalled all bags of Jay’s brand original potato chips produced on a certain date because whoops, 180 of them contain a “milk allergen.” What that milk allergen is exactly that snuck into the potato chips, the FDA and Krunchers! aren’t saying, but it’s some kind of milk product, so read about the details of the 180 affected bags of chips and act accordingly.

Second, following Bravo Farms’ recall of its Dutch-style Gouda last week, the company is now recalling ALL OF ITS CHEESES. The Centers for Disease Control fully found E.Coli O157:H7 in their Gouda, which led to testing of the entire Bravo Farms plant, where the CDFA found more E.Coli O157:H7  and Listeria monocytogenes. Cheese is so awesome!! Should anyone we know and/or love eat this brand of cheese, let them know they can either return it to the place of purchase, or just throw it away.
Update: These cheeses are also sold at Whole Foods, and apparently Bravo Farms cheese is usually of such high quality they all have a “distributed by Whole Foods” sticker on their packaging as well. Wherever there are animal products, there’s a risk of bacterial infection. Barf.

Speaking of bacteria, Calabro Cheese recalled 57 pounds of “Calabro All Natural Rotolini Mozzarella & Prosciutto,” lot number 3190, as they may be contaminated with, what? Lysteria monocygenes! Oh man, Lysteria is all over the place this week! This “possible contamination” was discovered by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, rather than the FDA, because it contained a meat product—any food item involving meat, poultry, or processed egg products is regulated by the USDA through the FSIS. This’ll be the site to let you know about any risk of illness through dead turkey this week, too. Of course you don’t care, but maybe you want to keep your weirdo relatives from getting sick and having to stay at your house for an extra week.

Worst of all, Artisan Confections Company has had to recall 33 cases of Dagoba Organic Chocolate New Moon Rich Dark Chocolate 74 percent cacao 0.32 oz squares because of a Salmonella contamination risk. MAN is it frustrating when vegan products like this line of Dagoba chocolates come into contact with Salmonella, which is a bacteria of exclusively animal-origin. Where did it come from? That’s a question for the third-party manufacturer, I suppose; regardless, anyone with the New Moon squares is asked to call Artisan Confections Consumer Relations at 866/ 608.6944 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST.

And now you have your Thanksgiving conversational topics! Maybe, in case the conversation starts to drag even with all this exciting news, you might want to look up the effects of E. coli, Salmonella, and/or Listeria illnesses on the body, to really get things going again. People love to hear exactly how their food is going to kill them while they’re eating it! That’s what holidays are for.

11/17/2010

Humane Society investigates Cal-Maine battery cage farm: surprise, it’s a hellscape  »


Rows of cages stretch alongside a pile of overflowing chicken manure.

This is absolutely the least disturbing photo of the 12 released today by the Humane Society as part of its 28-day undercover investigation at a Cal-Maine factory farm in Texas. Each hen is allowed “67 square inches” of space in which to live and die; the cages are stacked on top of each other; and there are approximate 1 million hens laying eggs at this place.

The investigation showed dead hens left in cages with living hens. It showed hens covered in manure from the hens in the cages above them. It showed hens with massive wounds left untreated. It showed eggs covered in the hens’ blood and manure. Eggs: “nature’s perfect food!”

Cal-Maine recalled “24,000 dozen,” which is to say 288,000 eggs on Friday, Nov. 5, because one of its suppliers had had its eggs test positive for Salmonella Enteriditis! This supplier, Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC in Croton, Ohio, presumably still keeps its hens in battery cages, as the agreement reached in January of this year prohibits the building of new battery cages. Looking at the photos of the Cal-Maine facility in Texas, it’s not hard to see how naughty Salmonella might hop from the hens’ excrement to their eggs. California’s egg-eaters and its chickens are so lucky for Prop. 2, right? Except that one of the recalled brands sells eggs all over California, ha ha ha.

The detailed report from HSUS [pdf] is a very good, if nauseating read. It’ll be nice/depressing/appalling to see the omnivorous (food) world’s reaction to this. Meanwhile, anyone for a nice cruelty-free dessert? Or maybe wait a little while until you’ve recovered from that horror show.

11/16/2010

Wherever you are, your government hates you  »

Not a joke. In England, after slashing health and welfare benefits, the new government is writing policy on “obesity, alcohol, and diet-related disease”; namely, “an overhaul of public health.” To advise them, the government has asked experts in different areas of obesity, alcohol, and diet-related disease, including: Cancer Research U.K.; the Faculty of Public Health; the CEO (Jeremy Beadles) of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association; Diageo; Unilever; Mars; Kellogg’s; PepsiCo; KFC; and McDonald’s. British public health policy: it’s just like ours! Which is to say, the mighty businesses get to strike all the legislation they don’t like, work in sneaky little loopholes so they can continue to sell their demon “food” unfettered by silly regulations, and do it with the approval of the government AND public health advocacy groups! Win-win-win, suckers!

Currently 30 percent of North Korean residents are “substantially undernourished,” but every single country save China and South Korea does not want to donate food because the PRK’s government is all nuked up. AHAHA sorry fellow human beings; your government eats up all your food and hordes money you will never see, makes selling or trading your own food illegal, and refuses to shut down its nuclear program despite 30 percent of you already starving! And not one wealthy country that could give you food or the supplies to grow your own will, because we’re all playing a game of nuclear-chicken with your dictator-leader! I guess you’ll just have to rely on the underfunded U.N. World Food Program.

Those lovely reuseable plastic-composite shopping bags all the grocery and drugstores sell now? Some of them are full of lead. YES. Thanks for the Q.C., government! Glad you’re looking out for us as we try to avoid using terrible animal-murdering never-decomposing plastic bags! Solution: canvas. Just use bags made of recycled canvas and you and the environment and the cotton-harvesters will be all right.

And here are your FDA recalls from last week (Nov. 9 to 13)! As the majority of these are non-vegan, maybe let your meat- and cheese-eating pals know about them. And sleep well at night knowing how much lower your risk of bacterial illness is.

Thanks for strictly enforcing those safety standards, FDA! Man it is great to live in a country whose government cares so much about its citizens’ health and safety.

Achtung, vegans! Liz Lovely products recall!  »

Hot off FDA Recalls news, Liz Lovely has had to recall 10 cookie products, as they all contain chocolate and/or chocolate chips with dairy! This chocolate was purchased from a third-party manufacturer, which failed to declare the dairy present in its chocolate. Boo.

The following products were affected
In 6oz. plastic bags with two cookies
Cowboy Cookies
Cowgirl Cookies
Peanut Butter Classics
Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge
Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Mint
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip

In 8oz. plastic containers
Lovely Oh’s
Mint Lovely Oh’s
Peanut Butter Lovely Oh’s
Organic Pretzels

These products were shipped between Oct. 4 and Nov. 15, 2010; if you bought any of these products, Liz Lovely asks that you “return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.” The specific UPCs and affected lot numbers are available on the FDA news page.

For more information, visit Liz Lovely’s website, or contact the company between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST at (802) 496.6390.

Don’t fret! Accidental dairy is WAY less scary than what the meat- and cheese-eaters are always being threatened with, i.e. life-threatening bacteria. Return your sweets, wait until Nov. 24, and buy a new pack that will be absolutely dairy-free, as usual.

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