Archive for Thursday, September 9, 2010

Broken food system

September 9, 2010


Sickening reports released recently from an investigation of two large egg-producing farms in Iowa would shake anyone’s confidence in the safety of America’s food supply.

Federal Food and Drug Administration inspectors were drawn to the farms following a salmonella outbreak that prompted the recall of half a billion eggs produced in Iowa.

What they found was a situation that many Americans wouldn’t think could exist in this country. Barns where eggs were being produced had dozens of holes chewed by rodents that allowed mice, insects and birds to enter and live inside the barn. Manure piles had built up to 4 to 8 feet high in pits below hen houses sometimes pushing pit doors open allowing more rodents and wild animals to enter. Dozens of hens had escaped their cages and were roaming free, tracking manure as they went. Even the water used to wash the eggs before they were sent to market was found to be contaminated with salmonella.

The FDA also announced that this month, it would begin inspecting the nation’s 600 largest egg farms, which produce 80 percent of the nation’s eggs.

It’s about time.

The fact that just 600 farms produce 80 percent of the nation’s eggs may be part of the problem. In 1987, there were about 2,500 commercial egg-producing farms, according to United Egg Producers, a trade group. Now, 192 large, profit-driven commercial egg producers control 95 percent of all the nation’s laying hens; half the nation’s hens are concentrated in just five states.

Iowa is by far the largest egg-producing state. It is perhaps not surprising that, according to food safety experts, Iowa also has far fewer rules than most states regarding inspections of food and feed operations and therefore produces some of the least expensive eggs in the country. You get what you pay for.

Particularly maddening about the current situation is that so many of the violations inspectors are finding now could have been so easily detected by anyone taking a stroll through the farmyard. The fact that they weren’t discovered until there was a major salmonella outbreak casts real doubt on the regulations and regulators that supposedly ensure the safety of America’s food supply.

In recent years, several outbreaks of food-borne illness have been traced to produce that came from Mexico or other locations outside the U.S. Many Americans may have smugly thought that “buying American” would protect them from such dangers.

Well, think again. Ensuring the safety of the American food supply should be a basic responsibility of government. Consumers deserve — and must demand — better.


Liberty_One 7 years, 9 months ago

A perfect example of how regulations don't work to prevent harms. Unfortunately the author here makes the opposite conclusion regarding the solution. Why is it that every time government regulations completely fail, there are people who think the answer is....government regulation?

Why can't people see that regulation is just a way to take the responsibility off these wealthy corporate interests and place it on the government? Instead of punishing these food conglomerates the government swoops in to protect them with promises to the public that more regulation is all we need.

Don't worry folks, the government is going to make sure everything fine, so keep buying these things because profits come first.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

When you have one party in particular, the Republicans, whose stated goal is to make sure that government is inept, powerless (and corrupt,) incidents such as this are inevitable.

So the problem isn't regulation, but rather the pretense of regulation.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I believe that's incorrect, that regulations remove any responsibility from businesses.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Can you sue the government if the regulations are inadequate?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

Regulations are there in order to let the businesses know what the minimum expectations are in running their operations in a safe way.

When they run afoul of those regulations, they need to be held accountable.

But when you have one party which shares your belief that the fewer regulations, the better, and they intentionally go about sabotaging the regulatory process, that doesn't mean that regulations are a bad idea. It means that corruption is a bad idea.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"The only people who can monitor every thing going on are the businesses themselves."

And they do it better.

imastinker 7 years, 9 months ago

So we can both agree that government is corrupt - but you a prefer a powerful and corrupt government rather than a powerless and corrupt government?

It certainly explains a lot of the difference between our ideologies.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

From the story:

"Iowa has far fewer rules than most states regarding inspections".

Paul R Getto 7 years, 9 months ago

LO: Pretty good point. We do need supervision of food producers to prevent a return the days of Sinclair Lewis' The Jungle. If, however, the CEO of any organization faced serious prison time in a real jail when they are caught, for example, blasting oil into the ocean, selling tainted meat, eggs or other food, or hiring illegals to produce that food, things might change. Your most powerful observation: "profits come first." The fines imposed by current regulatory regimes are merely the cost of doing business and don't really influence company policy.

booyalab 7 years, 9 months ago

The Jungle was fiction. Even if it wasn't, government inspections occurred before the book was written, so you would have to blame the existing inspectors as much as you blamed the businesses. Sinclair didn't want MORE inspectors. He wanted a socialist state.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Can't people who got sick from the salmonella sue the company?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

It's clear the company was negligent in this case - isn't a failure to abide by regulations negligence?

Your costs comment is funny - that's one of the main problems with your idea that we should just all be suing instead of having the government regulate.

Given the problems with proving negligence, how would we be better off without regulations?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

But if you can't prove who caused the harm, how can you hold anyone accountable?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

It's extremely difficult in this case.

We all eat numerous things each day - how on earth could we determine which thing, from which business made us sick?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

As are determinations of negligence.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Aren't failures to abide by regulations by definition negligent?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

And, the problem of limited liability has to do with incorporation, as I understand it.

The idea that we would somehow do away with this form of ownership may be a good one, but it is almost certainly not going to happen.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

You may be absolutely correct.

Do you think that there's really a way to eliminate corporate ownership?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago


And which politicians do you think would go along with that idea?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago


The only way this one would ever succeed, though, is if we had enough politicians who weren't beholden to corporate contributions.

I doubt we'll see that happen, especially with recent Supreme Court decisions.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

I don't think they can JAFS..I thought there was a bill passed a few years ago preventing food companies from getting sued. Maybe it was only to protect the fast food industry..I would have to look at it.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

That's the major problem.

If companies can simply write off lawsuits, fines, etc. as part of the cost of doing business, then they won't change their practices.

What about simply removing their right to do business instead - maybe they'd pay attention then?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago


If judges who are favorable to corporate America routinely decrease jury awards, the damages may not accurately reflect the harm done.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

How much did that woman make for spilling her own coffee in her lap, because it was hot? And judges favor corporate America?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I didn't say they all did.

Some obviously do, and some don't.

The McDonald's case is interesting - at first glance it seems absurd, but if you read more about it, it's not that clear.

I forget the details.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

The details:

She spilled her coffee.

It was hot.

S**t happens.

Oh - then she sued and was awarded a ridiculous amount of money.

You know why every blow drier sold in this country keeps shutting off because of the heat limiter? Because some idiot decided to put one under the covers of her daughter's bed because her feet were cold. The same goes for all the warning labels on every product we buy, which sometimes are so basic and unnecessary that the only ones they could possibly benefit couldn't read or understand the labels anyway (Don't make toast in the shower!!!!!!!!). Some of those things are mandated by the government, some of them are just undertaken 'voluntarily' by the manufacturers. And It's not out of the goodness of their kind little hearts, it's because someone has already sued - and won - for an exorbitant sum to compensate them for their own stupidity.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

That's what I said before I read more about it.

I wish I could remember what changed my mind.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Oh - I remember one part.

McDonald's had been informed that their coffee was hotter than other chains, and could cause serious burns.

Their response was that they'd keep the coffee as hot as it was, and deal with injuries on a case-by-case basis.

Which they did, and lost.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

And if memory serves, the burns she got were quite serious, requiring extensive medical treatment.

But for our local celebrants of urban myths and Schadenfreude, neither facts nor human suffering are of any import.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

They were, much more serious than I had thought.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

What other chains? Starbucks, BK, and Dunkin Donuts all served their coffee at the same temperature (at the time, at least). Many home brewing machines brew coffee hotter than that because that's how coffee should be brewed. (A subsequent decision by the 7th US Circuit Court even said so in dismissing a similar case against another defendant.)

Their response wasn't exactly that they'd deal with injuries on a case by case basis - it was that ALL hot food presents a burn risk (do you have any idea, for instance, what temperature french fries are when they come out of the fryer?), and they had other items to be concerned about besides coffee.

More facts of the case:

  • There was a warning on the cup.

  • The contention of the plaintiff was not that a lower temperature wouldn't cause similar burns, but that it takes longer to do so, giving a person time to remove the coffee from her skin. As if this 79 year old woman was going to jump out of the car and strip off her sweat pants in the street given the extra 15 seconds to do so.

  • The plaintiff was found, at least, to be partially negligent.

And something that it would be nice to know whether it was fact or not: The plaintiff claimed her grandson had pulled over and stopped the car to let her take the top off.


notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

If I spilled coffee on myself? Which is what happened here.

What 'recommended temperature' are you referring to, jesse? What the plaintiff said it should have been? You can't brew coffee at 145 degrees. Even if you cooled it to that temperature to serve, by the time you pour it in a cup, the customer adds cold creamer to it (which is why she removed the top in the first place), and you get around to drinking it, you're drinking coffee cooler than hot water from the tap. Other courts, including the 7th Circuit, have agreed with this. A court in the UK, in another subsequent lawsuit, found the plaintiff's claim that the lower temperature would have given her 'x' amount more time to get the coffee off (apparently by taking off her pants in the street) had no scientific foundation. Other major chains serve their coffee at that temperature. McDonald's still does. The cup had a warning on it, which one might think was unnecessary to a woman who's probably been drinking coffee for 60 years and already KNEW coffee is hot.

At the time McDonald's was making about $1.35M in coffee sales every DAY. How big of a percentage of that is 700 other suits over 10 years?

And I do not for one minute believe the car was pulled over and stopped when she put the coffee between her legs and took the top off.

Yes, I bet her wounds were very painful and devastating. Guess she shouldn't have spilled her coffee. You do know that originally she was just looking for someone to pay about twice her medical bills, don't you?

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"I am aware of her initial request. And McDonald's countered her $20K request with $800."

How much were they supposed to offer her for something that was her fault?

"Coffee served at home is generally 135-145 degrees."

Remind me not to have coffee at your house.

There are home coffee makers that brew at 185-195 degrees. That's the temperature recommended for brewing coffee because that's the temperature required to release the flavor and aroma from the beans. If I remember correctly, the 7th Circuit case was against Bunn, and that's what the court even said.

Coffee may be served at home at a temperature ready to drink immediately, but it's brewed hotter. And there's a difference between a cup of coffee poured into a cup at the dining room table meant to be consumed at that moment and a cup handed through a drive-through window and taken off site. Most people prefer coffee served hotter and allowed to cool to the temperature they can drink it at, since doing it the other way around (getting it cold and warming it up) is rather impractical, especially in a car.

"McDonald's own QA manager testified that at the temperature they were serving coffee it "was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat." He also admitted they ignored several warning from the Shriner's Burn Institute in Cincinnati that it was way too hot. But yeah, they know nothing about burns so lets just ignore them."

And yet of the literally hundreds of millions of cups of coffee McDonalds serves every year, they got about 70 cases a year. Seems the vast majority of people, people exercising normal, reasonable prudence and judgment, know enough not to drink the coffee the minute it comes from the pot. And it was never disputed that hot coffee can burn a person's skin. Duh. At issue was whether a prudent person should know this (even without the warning that was already on the frikkin' cup) and whether they have a responsibility, after voluntarily requesting to be handed this hot liquid, to take care not to pour it on themselves.

"If the choice is between getting third degree burns and lowering my pants in public then I guess I'm willing to suffer a little bit of embarrassment. But only if I have the time to pull the pants down. 2 seconds is an awful short time to realize what happened and formulate a plan to minimize the risk. However 60 seconds..."

First of all, the plaintiffs alleged the time would have been 20 seconds. It's not a question of embarrassment, it's whether a 79 year old woman would have had time, even with that 20 seconds, to get out of the car and remove her pants and find something with which to wipe the coffee from her groin. Second, and more importantly, other courts have ruled that there is no scientific basis to believe she would have had even that extra 15-18 seconds.


notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago


"If McDonald's is still serving coffee at 195 degrees like you suggest it just shows that corporations CANNOT be trusted to police themselves even after 700+ lawsuits."

700 is not a lot of lawsuits for a product that is sold literally hundreds of millions of times. And they continued to sell the coffee at that temperature because - again - that's the recommended temperature for brewing coffee. They put bigger warnings on the cups, because that was one of the factors in ruling against them - there were warnings on McDonald's cups already, but the jury said they weren't big enough. I haven't looked at a cup of McDonald's coffee recently - maybe now it says "Hey, STUPID: This is HOT!!!"

And, um, BTW - the fact that McDonald's is still serving coffee at that temperature (and so do other chains) says exactly the opposite of what you claim - there is no regulation keeping them from doing so. The only reason they even enhanced the warnings was not because of regulation, but because of, yes, that almighty dollar.

"This case proves the exact opposite. There was no regulation yet McDonald's was not and is still not, according to you, making a safe product. "

A safe product? Seriously? Such as what - cold coffee - served with mittens so people won't get their hands cold, either? Coffee is hot. Hot things can burn. Go figure. The stovetop in your house is an unsafe product, since it can cause burns if someone is stupid enough to put their hand on the burner. Sidewalks are not safe - my god, they're hard, they're rough, why, if someone trips over their own feet they could scrape their knee!!! Why do we allow people to grow trees? What a horror! Any tree over 2 feet tall is a danger just lurking, waiting to crack some kid's head open when they fall out. And the stairs in your house? Good lord, man - they SLOPE! What a frikkin' nightmare!!!!!

You do realize that to be 'safe', meat has to be cooked to a temperature that's hotter than you're recommending for coffee? So the choice is between botulism and burns? You do realize that fried foods come out of the oil at around 350 degrees or more? Why, oh why do we let people eat french fries? Oh, and what about those that prefer tea to coffee - it's made with water that's boiling, for pity's sake!

700+ people have sued McDonalds complaining they got burned because they did something stupid. Millions of others have had the common sense to not pull off the top in a car and pour it on their crotch. It's not the responsibility of big business - or the government - to try to fix stupid.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

I have gotten fries served at temperatures that were too hot to hold, let alone bite into, yes. This happens particularly during busy times when the kitchen is backed up and the fries are served right out of the fryer.

I had enough common sense to wait before putting them in my mouth.

And yes, actually, inadvertent as it might have been, she poured the coffee on herself. The coffee did not leap out of the cup and attack her.

BTW, jesse - do you really believe they pulled over and stopped so she could pour the creamer in her coffee? Have you ever seen anyone do that? Perhaps the driver might take the top off his own coffee and add something to it while stopped, but stop so a passenger can do that? Seriously? I'm really sure it happened just the way they said it did - just as I'm sure most people pull over to the side of the road and stop before answering their cell phone.

"The jury said she was only 20% at fault. That means the other 80% was McDonald's fault just in case your math is weak. "

The jury can say whatever they want. Similar lawsuits have found 0% liability for the defendants. What kind of 'math' are you using, jesse? If one jury can find the defendant liable for 80%, one for 0%, etc., then that's not math, is it? Juries decide cases based on emotion. Juries look at a poor 79 year old grandmother who burned her groin and say 'Oh, dear, the poor little thing, someone has to pay for this outrage!' Math has nothing to do with it.

Or maybe you'd like to explain the jury's 'math' on awarding over $200K for compensatory damages when she had $11K worth of medical bills?

Just for S&G, and having just made a pot of coffee, I decided to check the temperature. I don't have one of those fancy Bunn home units or something similar, just a cheap $15 coffee maker I got at Wal-mart. By the time the pot was finished brewing, and one might presume it had already started to cool in the pot, it was still 165 degrees. Immediately after that, after pouring it into a room-temperature ceramic mug, it was down to 148. By the time I set it down and started drinking it a few minutes later, it was about the 135 you mentioned earlier. Guess it's a good thing I'm not an idiot that interrupted the brewing and took a cup early, maybe in something less substantial like a paper or styrofoam cup, and poured it immediately down my throat. Heck, then I would have had to get a lawyer, sue the manufacturer, Wal-mart, and maybe even you because you were the first to read about it.

And also, jesse, I notice you didn't address my point. Maybe it was veiled in sarcasm, so let me ask straight out - if you put your hand on the hot burner of the stove and burn the skin off your hand, is it the appliance maker's fault for making an unsafe product?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

If you haven't read it already, I recommend the Grisham novel "The Appeal" - it's based on a true story.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

A normal, prudent person has the expectation that their drinking water is safe to consume. The same normal, prudent person also should expect coffee to be hot.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Sure - I agree.

But the point of the book is that, given powerful moneyed interests which infiltrate our judicial system, jury decisions (which are supposed to be the arbiters of fact and damages) can easily be thrown out.

Is this how the system is supposed to work? I think not.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"jury decisions (which are supposed to be the arbiters of fact and damages)"

The McDonald's jury decision had absolutely nothing to do with facts or damages. It was based on absolutely nothing other than feeling sorry for grandma and going after someone with deep pockets they perceived as the villain.

BTW, if you think the ultimate amount awarded in the coffee case was in any way as significant to the McDonald's corporation as the $41 million was in the book, why haven't they changed the temperature they serve their coffee at?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

It was of course not significant, in that way.

The whole point of having a trial by jury is that the jury is supposed to listen to testimony and arrive at a decision about the facts of a case. Then, they're supposed to determine damages, in civil trials.

If judges can simply and arbitrarily throw out the verdicts, then what's the point of having the trials in the first place?

Why not eliminate juries completely and just let judges decide cases?

Are jury trials perfect? Of course not. Are judges perfect? Of course not.

Is the fact that wealthy folks can in essence rig judicial elections and buy the judge of their choice a big problem? I think so.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

That's actually two separate issues. The fact that some judges may be dishonest and susceptible to bribery shouldn't affect the question of whether they should be able to throw out verdicts.

I was actually arguing this point with another member last week. He didn't think that we should even have juries (we were talking about criminal trials, BTW). He felt there should be a panel of judges that knew the law rather than a group of just plain folks. I disagreed, vehemently.

However, I think the possibility of a judge negating a verdict doesn't subvert the system, I think it strengthens it. I mentioned in another post that the same attorney in the McDonald's case had sued McDonald's several times. In one, an employee actually spilled the coffee on the customer as she or he was handing it through the car window. Same temperature, same serious injury, absolutely no blame that could be attached to the customer. That one was settled for a tenth of what the jury gave this woman. How is there any fairness or any justice to that?

This was a case where the jury went on pure emotion in awarding the damages. If you read some of the stuff the jury members have said, this is very clear. Now, the important thing to remember is the judge did not set aside the verdict in this case, he reduced the amount awarded. In other words, he went along with the decision of the jury that McDonald's was liable, but he reduced the award that was obviously based on pure emotion, not on any facts or evidence presented at trial. And even though I disagree with the jury's decision in this case, I think it's important that a jury of one's peers determines guilt or innocence. But I also think that an expert on the law itself should make sure that law is not being totally ignored in their decision.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Absolutely, if that's what they're doing.

In the case that "The Appeal" is based on, the entire verdict and all damages are thrown out, and it doesn't seem to be based on the law.

You disagree personally with the McDonald's verdict not only on damages, but on who's responsible - from your comments, it seems you think the lady injured is 100% responsible. Why are you willing to accept the jury's decision on that part? Why wouldn't you say the judge should just throw it out completely?

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

I accept the jury's decision on the verdict because that's our system of justice. I believe in the importance of a jury of one's peers. Sometimes they're going to get it wrong. Most of the time they'll get it right. Even judges aren't infallible, and putting our whole system of justice into the hands of a few people to pass judgment on the rest of us is not something we want to consider. We may as well go back to a feudal society if that happens.

The jury's decision is, in the end, a judgment that's going to involve some emotion and opinion. This is particularly true in a civil case where the standard is a preponderance of the evidence. The judge decided that, on a factual basis, the amount awarded in compensatory damages exceeded the plaintiff's losses, and he tied the punitive award to 3 times the actual damages. And that's different than setting aside the verdict, which, as I said, even though I disagree with what the jury found, it's the jury's job to do that.

As for your next post I'll answer that one here, too (LJW's website has been really dogged down lately). My understanding of the appeals court process is that they can overturn a verdict based on a point of law, i.e., as you said, something wrong with the process. That may not always be as clear as the judge or jury ignoring a statute. It may be something like the judge allowing into evidence something that would unfairly prejudice the jury (like particularly gruesome evidence photos) or, perhaps, some reason to believe that the jury ignored the law and decided the case on something other than the facts or the evidence (e.g. finding out one was a former McDonald's employee with a big grudge after he got fired for stealing). Also, by my understanding, the appeals court doesn't find a judgment in favor of the other party - they essentially say 'you did this wrong, try again' and the parties get another trial.

BTW - you DO realize that juries can be 'bought off' or otherwise influenced too, don't you?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

It seems to me that you want to have it both ways somehow.

All of your previous comments indicated that you didn't "accept" the jury's verdict at all - you thought it was ridiculous and wrong.

Why should a judge be able to limit punitive damages? The compensatory ones I understand.

And, you keep ignoring the bigger and more important case that Grisham's book is based on. The harm done was much more profound, the jury's decision seemed ok, and as far as I know, the decision was overturned without much reason at all. The court simply disagreed with the jury's decision that the defendant was responsible - but that's exactly why we have a trial by jury, to determine such facts.

I absolutely understand that juries are fallible.

It seems to me that if we put the decision-making capacity in the hands of juries, that judges should not be able to simply overturn their decisions because they disagree with them - that's just a big waste of time, energy and money.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

There's a big difference between "accepting" something and agreeing with it, isn't there? A lot of people didn't agree with O.J.'s acquittal, but there was no choice but to accept it - or did the people in California rise up in the streets and demand a change to the jury trial system?

I was pretty clear, I believe, that I said I approve of the jury system, even though they sometimes get it wrong, as I do believe they did in this case. How is that inconsistent? Just because I don't believe there is any such thing as a perfect system that's going to get it right every time?

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

In criminal trials, if there have been problems with the case, appeals courts will generally order a new trial, as I understand it, which gives a chance for the correct procedures to occur and a more just outcome to prevail.

In civil ones like the "Appeal" one, it appears that the appeals court can simply throw out the jury's verdict, without any evidence that there was anything incorrect about the process - that undermines the jury's role as the determiner of facts.

Given that that's one of the whole points of jury trials, I submit that allowing appeals courts to simply overturn it with no basis subverts the system.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, that should be 'you can't brew coffee at 135 degrees', not 145.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Are you going to answer my question, jesse?

If you burn yourself on a hot stove (even accidentally, say trying to catch yourself after a slip on a wet kitchen floor), is the appliance maker responsible for your injury because they made an unsafe product?

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Okay, I give, respected LJW moderators - what was wrong with THAT one???

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Didn't think it was you. You've always shown a willingness to discuss things rather than have them pulled, even on the - rare ;) - occasions when I was perhaps a little abrasive.

I just can't for the life of me figure out what got it pulled. I don't think I said anything I didn't say in the follow-up.

I once had a post pulled that included three quotes from famous people. That was it, just the three quotes. To see which one was offensive to someone, I re-posted them separately - and all three stayed.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Gee, let's try this again and see if maybe it can get by without offending anyone's delicate sensibilities (although I still, for the life of me, can't see what someone objected to in the original).

"Yes, if they made the stove in such a manner that it clings to your skin when touched, like a liquid that is "unsafe for consumption" does. "

The burner wouldn't cling to your hand.

Your hand would cling to the burner, though.

"That takes, what? 3/10 of a second?"

How long do you think it would take? Someone I know just got third degree burns from accidentally putting their hand on a muffler.

"She must've been a very limber 79 year old to do that. Maybe she bumped it with her hand. It happens, 79 years olds aren't known for their steady hands. But that certainly isn't pouring in on yourself."

That was my point about whether coffee at a lower temperature would have prevented the seriousness of the burn. The evidence presented said you can get a third degree burn from something as low as 130 degrees. The plaintiff contended she would have had an extra 12-15 seconds. Now, would this 79 year old have had 1) the presence of mind, 2) the reactions, and 3) the ability to get out, take off the soaked clothing, and find something to wipe off the coffee with in that time?

"If the car was in motion, like you contend, it invalidates your "poured it on herself" claim. If that's the case then it most likely sloshed out of the cup."

Who took the top off?

Look - if she burned herself taking the frozen pizza out of the oven because she was clumsy, inattentive, or just accidentally: It's not the oven manufacturer's fault the oven can reach dangerous temperatures - that's the general idea; it's not the pizza pan maker's fault the pan was made of metal that conducts and holds heat - that's also the idea; it's not the fault of the pizza company that such high temperatures are required to safely heat the food.

Tired too - no sleep all week, two sick kids. Probably not good for prolonged debate on either side.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

From what I've been able to find, they changed their standards from 180-190 degrees to 176-194 degrees. The plaintiff's lawyer (who seems to have quite a lucrative practice suing McDonald's for coffee burns) claimed they 'lowered' their temperatures in defending the suit against the public outcry about its frivolous nature.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

But not after the 700+ previous lawsuits.

Meaning that many people were injured who might not have been otherwise.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Out of literally hundreds of millions of coffees sold.

What's that percentage? Compared, say, to the number of people that burn themselves on a hot stove?

(Hint: Less than one-thousandth of a percent of McDonald's coffee purchasers have ended up suing because they got burned.)

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Here's something else that changes the percentage "quite a bit" - I was wrong about the hundreds of millions. McDonald's coffee sales are measured in billions.

Since you're stuck on the 'math' of the case, here's another number to consider. As I mentioned, granny's lawyer has made quite a career out of suing McDonald's. He had a previous case, that he settled for $230K, in which the McDonald's employee actually spilled the coffee on the customer. Same temperature, same third- and second-degree burns. Absolutely NO culpability on the part of the customer, who never touched the coffee and never saw the warning. What made granny's case worth so much more?

Like I said, juries in personal injury cases don't look at math, or even facts. They decide by emotion. There's plenty about this case on the internet, including stories from the jurors themselves. They were mad because one of the experts for McDonald's - who actually had the audacity to be paid for his work - stated the number of cases was statistically insignificant. It is - but the jurors heard that as granny's injuries being insignificant. They also got mad because McDonald's said they were not going to change the temperature. Why the f should they? That's the industry standard for brewing coffee, and their market research says their customers want their morning coffee at full flavor, full aroma, and steaming hot. Saying they'd change the temperature because of this suit is like saying they're going to lower the fryer temperature if someone gets burned by a french fry. But the jury didn't consider facts, they went by their emotions, which were 'let's punish that big old meanie corporation because granny got clumsy'.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

No, they didn't. They broadened the acceptable range for serving it, from slightly cooler to slightly hotter.

What they DID do was enhance the warnings, since that was a large part of the juries basis for the award - that the existing warning, already on the cup, was insufficient. But you're correct that THAT was done in response to market regulation, not government intervention.

(Personally, I think those warnings are counterproductive - the more you try to make something idiot-proof, you just breed more and more bigger idiots.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

So tell me nota, at what point did you come to the realization that corporations are infallible, and consumers are all greedy dolts looking to take them down?

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Why don't you tell all of us, Herr Klowne, when you came to the realization that all members of the proletariat are decent, honest, hardworking people who'd be thriving in peace and harmony if only the bourgeoisie and those big, evil, profit-driven corporations would just get their jack-booted heels off their throats and stop taking advantage of them?

The woman spilled her coffee in her lap, bozo. The fact that she chose to buy this coffee from McDonald's instead of from Mom & Pop's Donut Shoppe on the corner doesn't entitle her to $600K for her clumsiness. And unlike you, I didn't make any generalizations. I talked about one woman, one lawsuit. I don't even fault this woman for asking to have her medical bills paid, although I don't think she was entitled to compensation for something that was her own fault. The attorney who decided to make money off her suffering, though, and try to gouge McDonald's for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, that's a different story.

Now, boohoozo, did you have anything to say about my posts based on something like the facts of the case, instead of your usual class-jealous rants and indignant demands to punish the evil corporate giant for the pain and suffering of this poor, honest worker?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

But she should at least get something for feeding your Schadenfreude, don't you agree?

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

So, to answer my question, no, boohoozo doesn't have anything to say about the facts. As usual.

Thanks for clearing that up, Herr Klowne.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

This isn't about "facts."

You've merely stated your opinion that it's perfectly acceptable to hand someone in a car at a driveup window a cup of coffee at very nearly the boiling point, in an easily crushable styrofoam or cardboard cup, with a lid that will easily pop off.

Some of us have the common sense to realize how stupid that is. Others, not so much.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

The largest problem is never enough health inspectors on the payroll. Likely there are plenty of regulations just not enough enforcement people on the payroll. Let's put people to work.

If consumers visited large commercial egg laying operations and cattle/swine feed lots they likely might consider giving up eating both.

These creatures have little space and must stand around in feces and urine day after day.

What to do? Buy organic or chemcial free products from small local producers or grow your own.

Back yard chicken farms are held to much higher standards than large commercial operations. Which is why disease problems are rare.

Or go for meat/protein substitutes such as locally produced Tofu.

Other sources:

PROTEIN IN LEGUMES: Garbanzo beans, Kidney beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Navy beans, Soybeans, Split peas

PROTEIN IN GRAINS: Barley, Brown rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oatmeal, Quinoa, Rye, Wheat germ, Wheat, hard red, Wild rice

VEGETABLE PROTEIN: Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green peas, Green pepper, Kale, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard green, Onions, Potatoes, Spinach, Tomatoes, Turnip greens, Watercress, Yams, Zucchini

PROTEIN IN FRUITS: Apple, Banana, Cantaloupe, Grape, Grapefruit, Honeydew melon, Orange, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Strawberry, Tangerine, Watermelon

PROTEIN IN NUTS AND SEEDS: Almonds, Cashews, Filberts, Hemp Seeds, Peanuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts (black)

Raw protein — lean body?

by Pauline Robinson

Hemp protein contains all 20 known amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all 9 essential amino acids in a sufficient quantity and ratio to meet the body’s needs. Hemp seeds contain an adequate supply of these high quality proteins (EAAs) for a well balanced diet.

Hemp protein is free of the tryspin inhibitors which block protein absorption and free of oligosaccharides found in soy, which cause stomach upset and gas.Each daily meal should feature a good source of lean protein but very little animal fat or sugar.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, because doing your grocery shopping stoned really helps make better food decisions.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago


But you really enjoy what you buy, dude.

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

Well, except for that it would not. Other than that propaganda, you've got it about right. LOL

I would have thought that the litany of lies and distortion from the health care debate would have inoculated the public to such transparent lies fathered by those monied interests who stand to suffer diminished profits.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 9 months ago

OK, here are the violations reported on the Iowa farms: • Approximately two × six inch wood board was observed on the ground with approximately eight frogs living underneath.

• Layer 3 - House 8 had a bird's nest and birds were observed under the edges of metal siding on the south wall.

• The outside access door to the manure pits at these locations had been pushed out by the weight of the manure, leaving open access to wildlife or domesticated animals.

• Dark liquid which appeared to be manure was observed seeping through the concrete foundation to the outside of the laying houses.

• Uncaged birds (chickens having escaped) were observed in the egg laying operation ... The uncaged birds were using the manure, which was approximately eight feet high, to access the egg laying area.

• There were between two to five live mice observed inside the egg laying houses.

• Live and dead flies too numerous to count were observed ... inside the egg laying houses.

• Birds were observed roosting and flying, chicks heard chirping in the storage and milling facility. In addition, nesting material was observed in the feed mill closed mixing system, ingredient storage and truck filling areas.

Let me think about this. Having raised what is now called "free range chickens" now but when I was a kid was just called "chickens," I have the following observations. Frogs under a board? Bird nests under the overhang? Doors not closed all the way? Mice? Flies? loose chickens? These are not violations, these are the conditions that practically every chicken in history has been raised with.

The difference between our home grown chickens and every farmer's market chicken egg you will ever buy is not these "unsanitary" conditions, it is the scale of the operation. When you have a small operation, the problems are manageable and they don't get out of hand. My recollection was that our mouse problem disappeared when a black snake took up residence next to our chicken house, and while she probably ate a few eggs in the process, she liked mice better--end of problem.

But if you scale up the chicken house to one that holds a million chickens, you create a potential nightmare in my book. Problems that self limit on a small scale have unlimited access to spread far and wide, and what is not an issue on a small scale can mushroom into a huge problem.

The solution is not in monitoring, it's changing the subsidy situation that favors enclosed mega-production facilities over the local operations. The small farmer is making somewhat of a comeback due to farmer's markets and the like, but the middle scale farmer has been squeezed out of the picture and we are left with very efficient but brittle corporate farms. Check out the Kansas Rural Center, the Center for Rural Affairs, and other like websites for more information on what we should really be looking at if we don't want to see more of these things happening.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 9 months ago

What is disgusting? Are you sorry a snake ate the mice? And exactly where do you think eggs come from? And exactly what do we do with chickens and their eggs? If you eat meat, you should be willing to raise some of your own meat at some point in your life. If more people did that, they would have more respect for food, other animals, and have a better understanding how the "circle of life" works.

And I have no problems with vegetarians, either; they should raise some of their own veggies too, for the same reasons. It's instructive to see how plants grow dirt and do even better when you put a little composted manure on them. It's just the way things work--don't like it? Stop eating.

impska 7 years, 9 months ago

Well... small scale operations also don't have giant, seeping piles of manure.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 9 months ago

"Did you mean Upton Sinclair ----"The Jungle"? " === Tom: Good point. The old English teacher is ashamed. Now, Sinclair Lewis is also appropriate in our times: Kingsblood Royal and Elmer Gantry come to mind. Glenn Beck should read both. Thanks for the correction; I needed that. BTW: The egg company in question has paid millions in fines as a 'cost of doing business.' This emphasizes, I believe, my earlier point.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Of course.

But we need to make sure they're doing it well.

In North Carolina, they inspect restaurants every 6 months, and the restaurants are required to post the resulting score in a visible place in front where customers can see them.

As a result. all of the restaurants we went into had a score of over 90. In addition, people who live there said that if the score drops even a few points - say from 96 to 93, a fair number of people will stop eating there until the score increases.

Here, when I read a report in the paper about some violations at a local restaurant, the violations weren't named, and when I called the inspectors, I was told that I'd have to go to Topeka and submit a request in writing to get more information.

Also, they don't publish information about a restaurant correcting any violations.

I liked the system in NC a lot!

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Well, somewhat random inspections without notice would solve that problem.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

How about secret ones, like the way that restaurant critics operate?

The point is that any way we do it, there may be a downside.

We can try to minimize it.

Your solution has downsides as well.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

The downside to your continued idea that we should eliminate regulations and simply let those who are injured sue is that that places an undue burden on those who are injured.

Many people don't have the time, energy or money to pursue lawsuits.

Therefore it is an insufficient solution.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I don't know whether it would be more or less difficult for plaintiffs.

But you'd have a ton more people who had to sue - right now they don't have to do so.

You seem quite intelligent, so you must realize that any system will have downsides.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I disagree with your interpretation.

I believe the intent is, in fact, to protect the public. You've simply pointed out that it is not as effective as it should be.

The more that corporate and moneyed interests influence politicians, the less they represent the people - a problem I've mentioned often.

I think that you throw the baby out with the bath water - the better action would be to reduce/remove the influence of money and corporations in politics.

And, that your idea is hardly some sort of Utopia - many people have many more things to do than engage in lawsuits - they're busy working, raising a family, etc.

Of course, if you graduate and want more work for lawyers, then it all makes sense.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I really haven't seen a lot of businesses clamoring for government regulation - in fact, "pro-business" types often advocate for less regulation.

The egg problem and the BP spill were caused by inadequate enforcement and, most likely, corruption.

All systems and all people are corruptible, even lawyers, juries and judges.

I don't expect we'll agree - your anti-regulation stance has been well documented.

I believe that if we could get the moneyed influence out of the political arena, we'd have better regulation and better enforcement, and that would benefit the public.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

The same is true of judges.

Check "The Appeal" by Grisham.

If we had more lawsuits, and higher verdicts, high enough that they would punish companies severely, don't you think we'd see even more corruption/bribery of judges?

In your system, the judges are the ones who 'dole out" the money.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Then they'll try to get at the jurors.

You can't eliminate corruption and/or corruptibility of human beings, whatever system you design.

And, again, see "The Appeal" - the judge did exactly what you mention - they simply overturned the verdict and threw out the awards.

That was an appellate court - in fact, the state Supreme Court. As long as appellate courts can overturn verdicts and throw out jury awards, there's plenty of room for a problem there.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

My main criticism is that you point out the problems in our existing system, which mainly stem from human imperfections/corruptibility, and then suggest they are problems with the system, and that yours would be better.

It seems obvious to me it would simply be different, and contain the same kinds of imperfections as this one does.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I didn't say they were equivalent. Each one will have it's own distinct flaws.

All systems are flawed in theory, in practice, and with the addition of corruption.

The fact that corruption has become rampant in politics is because that's where the decisions are made - change the venue, and you'll just change where the corruption happens.

I don't have statistics regarding corruption in various places. The case, though, that I keep referring to is a real one, involving a state Supreme Court.

All you have to do is get the Supreme Court to your liking in a particular state, and keep appealing until you get there.

The criticism that courts are too plaintiff-friendly, etc. comes from the right, and many on the left disagree with that perception.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

And, your faith in the trial system is endearing, if a bit naive.

If we wanted to rein in corruption and greed, I think things like maximum wages, more reasonable CEO/average worker salaries, and getting the influence of money out of politics would be more likely to do so.

Perhaps the last idea that seems plausible to me is your idea of an unregulated free market system.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"In North Carolina, they inspect restaurants every 6 months"

I'll bet they don't.

Most places have laws requiring inspections every six months or every year. Whether they get done or not is a different story. In some places, particularly large cities, there are literally thousands of restaurants and only a handful of inspectors.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

That would be due to a failure to adequately fund the inspection department, if true.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

How many inspectors ya' think it would it take, jafs?

And how much is that steak going to cost you when it starts costing every restaurant $10K or more for a health inspection?

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years, 9 months ago

jafs, you need not go to Topeka nor need you submit a request in writing.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

If true, then I was misinformed by the inspectors that I spoke with.

Or they've changed their systems.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

One problem with your idea is that one would have to prove exactly what made them sick.

In a given day, people eat a variety of things from different places - if you get sick, it may be very hard to identify which thing from which place was tainted.

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years, 9 months ago

One way epidemiologists narrow it down is to identify the commonalities in people reporting symptoms. (That's how they found the eggs.) If a half-dozen people show up at the ER with food poisoning on Sunday, and they all ate the shrimp on a wedding buffet Saturday evening, the shrimp is a likely culprit. Then they find others who ate there but skipped the shrimp and didn't get sick.

Is it absolute proof, given the leftover shrimp was probably tossed and cannot be tested? No way. Is it strong enough evidence to conclude the shrimp is the most likely culprit? Absolutely.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Is it enough to make lawsuits winnable with large enough verdicts that they will strongly encourage the companies to change their practices?

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years, 9 months ago

I would suggest that will depend entirely on whether a jury of your peers calls the lawsuit winnable with such a verdict.

sbell10 7 years, 9 months ago

I don't think it's a coincidence that profit-driven companies have low amounts of inspection. So, to say that we should leave it up to them to regulate on their own isn't the solution. Like they didn't know about the code violations? Like BP didn't know it was using cheap materials to build oil rigs? This is exactly what happens when companies aren't being watched. I don't think that the government is doing a good job (by any stretch of the imagination), but I would be terrified to leave it up to Big Corporation.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"I don't think it's a coincidence that profit-driven companies have low amounts of inspection."

It's not a coincidence. Because they don't. See my link above to the story on how safety standards at companies like McDonald's far exceed those the government uses for school lunches, which themselves exceed the government standards for commercial sales.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

After watching FOOD INC. it seriously made me rethink what I was buying. The chicken coops were pretty nasty, but it was seeing the beef standing knee high in their own manure that really did it for gross.

deec 7 years, 9 months ago

Living 6 miles from a pork factory will do that,too. Driving by that place on the way to work, will put you right off your feed.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"When you have one party in particular, the Republicans, whose stated goal is to make sure that government is inept, powerless (and corrupt,) incidents such as this are inevitable."

Gee, there's a shock - bozo thinks it's all the Republicans' fault.

After all, we never had food recalls during the Clinton administration. Oh, wait:

And, um, clown? If the eggs that made people sick have been sitting around for the 19 months since Bush left office, gee, that might be a problem in itself. Seems it's our current president that ended up with the egg on his face.

And do we have more food that needs to be recalled with Republicans in office? Or are the Republicans just better at forcing companies to reveal problems? One of the largest food recall (the eggs might top it) in history was the little thing with the peanuts, remember? The company never would have turned over its inspection records had it not been forced to - under the Bush administration's bioterrorism laws.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

I think that the Democrats have certainly been complicit in many ways, particularly under Clinton.

But sabotage of regulatory processes merely so they can say "see, it doesn't work," isn't official Democratic policy as it is for Republicans.

seriouscat 7 years, 9 months ago

To me this is what makes a 'buy local' movement make the most sense. When the business in question is located within the actual community it serves, it is automatically going to be more responsible to the people it serves. The social and financial consequences are much greater to the person who has a child die in the community due to unethical business practices than the faceless conglomerate that is responsible for x number of reported hospital visits.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago


Unfortunately, it seems that local products are often more expensive, which is sort of counter-intuitive.

And means that many people can't afford to "buy local".

seriouscat 7 years, 9 months ago

Yes certainaly. Probably the average consumer doesn't even have a choice, and it's infuriating when that is presented as the only solution to the problem. We do need to elect people who will be sympathetic to that logic and support it in practice and bring about a more viable economic model for it. Ya think Brownback is our man? grimacing

Jennifer Dropkin 7 years, 9 months ago

Buying local food isn't the only option right now--you can buy nonlocal organic food, even if it has a larger footprint. In fact, for many foods, you'll have no choice: olive oil, avocados, and lemons, for example. Both options are more expensive than genetically modified, irradiated, hormone- and antibiotic-dosed foodstuffs in conventional supermarkets, but I'd rather pay for nutritious, healthy food now than pay for drugs, radiation, and surgery later. If I can do it on my salary, most of us can. The policy problem is getting rid of the stranglehold that Big Business has on our food supply: not just the giant egg companies but also the giant meat companies, giant dairy companies, giant grain companies, and giant seed companies--all dictating terms of production and distribution--and all benefiting from federal subsidies: our tax dollars. We're paying a lot for our cheap food.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Well, I understand some of that.

But smaller local farmers have less investment in equipment, and substantially lower transportation costs.

The same question exists, for me, in the area of whole foods vs. processed ones - why does it cost more to buy less processed stuff? All of the extra processing costs money.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

Because the ingredients they use in the processed stuff (mainly corn and soy) is heavily subsidized by the government making it cheaper. It's also about supply and demand-if more people are buying processed foods to snack on or use as meals for their families then it's going to be cheaper.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago


I'm generally against government subsidies.

But whole foods folks might be able to sell more if the prices were lower, as well.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

I totally agree with you. I think part of the issue is the government subsidies make it harder for those who sell whole foods to compete.

I think if they took away the government subsidies things would normalize a little more. Plus those subsidies are basically corporate welfare.

Part of the issue is with the livestock industry. They want the corn abnormally low because it cheapens their feed cost. (Which in most cases they shouldn't really be feeding the animals anyway....) Which I am sure you can see where this is going..lobbyists, special interest groups, Washington D.C blah blah blah.

You should watch Food Inc. I think you would actually find it interesting. It goes into a lot of this and more.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I've been a whole foods proponent and a vegetarian, sometimes vegan, for over 25 years.

I really don't need to watch that movie - I'm aware of the horrifying aspects of our food production.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

Yes, I am sure you know everything there is to know about our food system or how the government affects pricing. Why read or watch anything else.....

Nice attitude.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

Oh please.

I have no interest in watching a movie which documents the abuse and slaughter of animals in horribly inhumane and disgusting ways.

One reason I'm a vegetarian is that I find that sort of thing morally repugnant.

Where did I ever claim to know everything about anything?

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

Food Inc. isn't about the abuse of animals it's about the food industry as a whole.

You had initially asked about the cost of whole food vs.processed. That is why I mentioned you might be interested in checking it out. They have an entire discussion on that very issue and what influences it.

And maybe I responded in the wrong way, but the post came across as somewhat snarky.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

You mentioned the parts documenting the poor conditions in which chickens live, and cows standing in their own manure.

I don't need to see that stuff - I'm all too aware that it is happening.

As far as other things, it might be interesting. I am, though, also aware in a general way, that the government subsidizes much agriculture, and that big agribusiness interests control much of our food supply.

And, I certainly didn't intend to be "snarky".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

"I've been a whole foods proponent and a vegetarian, sometimes vegan, for over 25 years."

Ditto, for nearly 35 years.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

"But smaller local farmers have less investment in equipment, and substantially lower transportation costs."

And they sell fewer eggs, proportionately.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

It's easy to sabotage the regulatory processes. Let enough inspectors go so that the job cannot get done. That too satisfies corp america.

I'd say it's worth it to pay a little more if necessary for local eggs. And it keeps local dollars in the neighborhood.

The corporate commercial color of yolk can be much different than that of a local "actual free range" egg yolk.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago

I also am willing and able to pay more for more healthful food.

But many people are simply not able to do so.

camper 7 years, 9 months ago

If at all possible the best thing to do is eat poultry and meat that is organic and free-range. I believe this is one market where family owned farms (ie US workers) can compete. Free range means that livestock and poultry are eating food that they are intended to eat. The difference is a higher percentage of Omega 3 fatty acids which are healthy vs grain fed meat that is higher in Omega 6 (also healthy but we get way too much of by eating highly processed foods). When you eat food from factory farms, it is more likely that you are eating unhealthy animals that are given antibiotics and hormones. It is not to say this food is all bad, I'd just rather roll the dice by going organic whenever possible.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

Organic, small-scale agriculture is also more productive on a per-acre basis than industrial agriculture. Sure, it takes more human labor, but quite clearly, we have plenty of that available, anyway.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

Industrial agriculture relies as much (if not more) on petrochemicals as it does on photosynthesis.

This comes with very high costs that are quite simply unsustainable for political, economic and environmental reasons.

That doesn't mean that machines and technology can play no role in agriculture. Quite the opposite. But to be sustainable, and to be able to sustain us, all of us, it'll be technology that complements and multiplies the inputs of human labor on smaller scale farms-- a model that can work anywhere in the world.

frank regnier 7 years, 9 months ago

I quit eating commercial eggs after watching FOOD Inc. I am surprised how many people have not watched this documentary! And please, don't say "I don't watch it because I am afraid to see how our food is produced". Just stick your head in the sand and shut up.

deec 7 years, 9 months ago

Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemna is a good resource on the subject of our industrial food system as well.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

I need to read that book. I have watched a few of his interviews and what he has to say is quite interesting.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

Most all eggs are coming from egg farms of 100,000 or more chickens. Real nice and too too cozy. No "free range" chickens in these operations. Just stand around in one place.


"Speaking on a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, Hamburg said federal regulations that took effect in July could have prevented the recall.

The new regulations went into effect July 9, requiring egg producers with more than 3,000 hens to take measures designed to prevent the spread of salmonella. The current outbreak began in May, according to the FDA.

"We believe that had these rules been in place at an earlier time, it would have very likely enabled us to identify the problems on this farm before this kind of outbreak occurred," Hamburg said.

While FDA inspectors typically didn't inspect farms until after an outbreak of illness, Jeff Farrar, the associate commissioner for food safety at the Food and Drug Administration, said under the new rule, "We will be beginning routine inspections of egg farms throughout the United States."

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

"A perfect example of how regulations don't work to prevent harms."

A perfect example of how legalized bribery prevents regulators from protecting the public.

The FDA hasn't the authority, resources or funding to accept responsibility for preventing food related poisoning of consumers - and that's exactly how the food industry wants it and has invested considerable sums "to speak" to lawmakers.

In America, being a regulator, a "civil servant" isn't exactly the career most dream of. It's either a job filled by someone distinctly less than "the best and brightest" or someone who sees the U.S. gig as a stepping stone to the more lucrative world of working for the industry (something not to be mucked up by being a stickler for rules).

What's to be done? Nothing of any great significance is going to change. Government has too many contrary priorities including (a) maximizing the profits of private enterprise - legalized bribery - and (b) encouraging the maximum food supply at at the lowest cost possible. Worrying about a few dead people or about unhealthy illness that has multiple sources and takes decades to harm and kill just isn't on Congress' agenda because it's not on the voters' agenda.

camper 7 years, 9 months ago

In response to the 1st post. The harms that regulation prevent are the ones we don't read about.

I work for a large food producer, and sanitation is taken seriously. The primary reason is to ensure product quality for consumers, but also to limit fines by regulatory agencies. In fact many of these agencies will document an issue and are often diplomatic about providing time to mitigate an occurence or problem. Most of the stuff is not negligence, but things like plant humidity and controlling other factors that are almost impossible to achieve 100% compliance. But it is important that a standard is set, because competitors must also be compliant and the end result is a safer product.

And one other important point. If regulatory agencies were not involved, would anyone have realized what was causing people to become sick? Maybe, but I'm not so sure. There is not much of an incentive for producers to be concerned about other long-term health issues for consumers. There could be links to additives, pesticides, and fertilizers that show a tendency toward cancer incidence. Without some form of oversight, producers will never be too concerned about this because they have to monitor current profitability.

Regulation is like controlling a herd of sheep. You are always going to need a sheep dog to keep things in line when one steps out of the herd.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

I think his primary point (and I apologize if not) is that the industry can do a better job of enforcing standards because of market force regulation. And I have to agree with Liberty on that.

A couple of us went off on a tangent up above on the McDonald's coffee burn lawsuit. McDonald's didn't change the temperature of the coffee (because that's the temperature coffee should be brewed at and it's what most of their customers want), but they DID enhance their product warnings. Dunkin' Donuts, who (at least at the time) brewed their coffee at the same temperature, said in response to the jury award that they were considering whether they needed to change that. The specialty coffee industry trade group (which presumably includes such company's as Starbuck's, who also brewed to the same temperature) made similar statements, that they were going to study whether something could be done, I think they were going to look into the possibility of new processes that might be able to get the flavor and aroma at a lower temperature. None of these things were done in response to regulation - as far as I know, there are still no laws saying coffee can't be served that hot. It was in response to money.

Conversely, if there had been a regulation that said, for instance, that coffee can be served at a maximum temperature of 175 degrees, and someone burned themselves with coffee at 170, the company could say, in their defense, that they were meeting applicable regulations and standards, and the burn victim would likely get nothing. And the company involved would change nothing.

McDonald's, who sells billions of hamburgers, has inspection standards ten times what the government dictates for school lunch programs, which themselves are higher than those required for commercial sales. The other big chains have similarly higher standards than required. Why? Because it would be a devastating financial blow to the McDonald's corporation and it's millions (?) of franchisees if an e coli outbreak could be traced back to them. Yes, it IS all about the money. But that works in favor of safety, not lax standards.

camper 7 years, 9 months ago

Mad Cow disease is also an interesting topic. To my knowledge, stricter regulations are helping.

But there is one other thing. The stamp USDA organic has to mean something. If consumers want to make wiser purchasing decisons, this stamp must mean something.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that the government really has no way to track where tainted cows come from unless the producers supply the information. From what I've read (which is admittedly limited) on the subject, the USDA is pretty toothless. Ranchers and meat producers comply not so much to comply with regulation but because they'd be out of business otherwise.

camper 7 years, 9 months ago

Could be Nota. This proves that there are some good controls naturally provided by the marketplace.

I'm limited too, but one important thing is the ability to trace bad food and where it came from. This is a secondary form of regulation (after the horse got out), but to my knowledge, the FDA requires a barcode system to assist food tracking.

Mari Aubuchon 7 years, 9 months ago

Vaccinate the hens already! This has all but eliminated salmonella in Britain and , let me tell you, the Brits eats lots of runny eggs. It costs only a penny or two a dozen and it is the ONLY way to actually prevent this disease. Because salmonella is usually contracted by chickens from wild birds, rodents, or reptiles a farm being small, organic, or free-range only makes a difference in the scale of the epidemic.

We need to put pressure on Washington to make vaccination mandatory.

p.s. Egglands Best's hens are vaccinated.

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm not a big egg eater myself, but my family loves Eggland's. They're a little more than a penny or two more expensive, though.

camper 7 years, 9 months ago

It is too bad that drinking raw milk is not really advisable. Otherwise, milk would be even more healthy. Pasteurization kills off many of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes you could be getting from raw milk. Unfourtunately this is a little dicey and not even legal in most states.

camper 7 years, 9 months ago

TC, there is where I was going to go next. Even then, experts say that mercury levels are high in fish. The best way to go is to eat smaller fish who have not had the time to accumulate toxins. Sardines are possibly the best food on the planet.

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