Food Waist

So picking up right where we left off last week, I’m going to loop back to the week before last when we were wringing our hands about our own pointy headedness at the 4th Annual Food Justice Workshop. Galen Martin was one of the pointy-headed academics who showed up all the way from Eugene, Oregon …

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What a Waste!

Here we are as usual, a day late and a dollar short on the latest hip fad in food ethics. That, of course, would be food waste. We are so dang slow on this one that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has beaten us to it, having announced a major initiative on curbing food waste …

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Workshopping

The 4th Food Justice Workshop was held at MSU yesterday. There was some hand-wringing about “who is at the table.” Mostly academics was the answer, though a few people active in various community organizations dropped by for short stints. By the time we got around to the serious hand-wringing they had all gone home, as had …

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Review – US IPR Center Senate Testimony on “Counterfeits and Their Impact on Consumer Health and Safety” – Application to Food Fraud Prevention?

Last week on April 27, 2016 the US Intellectual Property Rights Center presented US Senate testimony about the “Counterfeits and Their Impact on Consumer Health and Safety.” Food was not specifically mentioned but it is within scope. These law enforcement agencies are designed, built, and reinforced for enforcement and investigation.  This leads to the food …

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Mansplaining Egg Prices

Hanging out with Jane Bush the other day, she mentioned the dramatic decline in the wholesale price of eggs. Here, I must note a disconnect because since Diane and I buy all of our eggs directly from Jane, I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the retail price of eggs. As such, I …

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Project Verified?

One of the regular readers of the Thornapple Blog posted a photo of the Non-GMO Project Verified label on Facebook this week. This occasions a deep philosophical quandary: What’s the difference between “project verified” and “process verified”? Now I’ll start right out by admitting that this quandary is so deep that it probably never occurred …

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Publication – Book on Food Safety in China: Past, Present, and Future – Chapter on Food Fraud [published in China in Chinese]

Dr. Spink with book editors Dr. Junshi Chen and Dr. Joseph Jwu-shan Jen This book was created by two of the top handful of Chinese food safety government advisors. Editor Dr. Joseph Jwu-shan Jen stated that this is a landmark publication that will establish the foundation for the state-of-the-art-of the science. They stated “It is …

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Metabolic Rift

I spent most of the beautiful afternoon weather we had yesterday sitting within four walls at the Kellogg Center listening to Brett Clark talk about “the metabolic rift.” Like most academic outings and too many Thornapple Blogs, the conversation drifted into overly fine attempts at correction and counter-correction. But I think I’ll resist the temptation …

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Bot Angels in the Food World

There’s something serious to be said about robots and their persistent intrusion into the food world. But saying it requires a bit of set up, so don’t expect anything too serious in this week’s blog. We got off on robots years ago when any blogger was going to be beset by dozens of computer programs—bots, …

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Chinchilla

So a couple of weeks back we did a blog about chin warmers, which, I should say right up front, was just a lame idea I had to talk about a yummy chilly-day meal we cooked up from adzuki beans and course-ground cornmeal. I allowed the blog to veer off onto a tangent about charcoal …

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In the Hunt

The blog is posting a few hours later than usual this week because I’m just back from dinner at my mother-in-law’s after flying in from Houston: ham, peas, scalloped potatoes. It was cooked up special by the kitchen, and the place was buzzing with relatives of other residents visiting for the Easter weekend. Food becomes central …

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Chin Warmers

Adzuki beans and arepas make for a pretty good cold weather supper about this time of year. I know we are supposed to be in the midst of Earth shattering changes that will drive all of us into our backyards during late March to grill out before the seriously hot weather sets in. In total …

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Good Stories

March is still roaring a bit, though with Mid-Michigan temperatures eking into the 60s it’s a bit more like a purr. Nevertheless, you have to squint pretty hard to see the crocuses peeking out of the ground or the little spots of green that will be turning into budding leaves in the coming weeks. I …

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Oedipus the Scientist

We’ve been doing “ways of knowing” in my class at Michigan State, and I’ve been resisting the temptation to drag my undergraduates through a tangent on Sophocles. Blog readers are not so lucky. You’ll recall Sophocles’ play about King Oedipus from your freshman class on world literature. The plot gets rolling because Creon, his brother-in-law and …

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Solidarity Forever

I came across this sentence during my morning reading: “Chimpanzee’s most sophisticated social-cognitive abilities may emerge only in the more natural situations of food competition with conspecifics.” It set me thinking. But first, the obligatory tangent, this time less in the vein of changing the subject and more in line with being helpful to my …

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Pathogen testing and the safety of poultry parts

The USDA FSIS recently finalized new poultry pathogen performance standards. In brief, the finalized rule is establishing standards and testing procedures for assessing the level of salmonella and Campylobacter on chicken parts (read: chicken breasts, wings, thighs, etc.) and not-ready-to-eat comminuted chicken and poultry (read: ground chicken and ground turkey). While not a high-profile or …

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CSA Philosophy

Thornapple CSA is a community supported agriculture group in the Lansing area. They host the website for the Thornapple Blog. It’s not entirely clear whether they are supporting the blog, or whether the blog is supporting the CSA. It’s certainly true that the Blog sits on a website that is maintained by the CSA. All …

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Heart-Shaped Blog

Although we find frequent occasions to complain about robots here in the Thornapple Blog, I do have to acknowledge that The Google is a regular blogger’s friend and savior. I sat down with a few half-baked ideas this morning (they will probably be back soon, but hopefully more fully baked). Then I noticed it was …

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Genetic Testing

This week we are considering a case from the back end of the food ethics continuum: the “devious defecator.” It concerns a legal finding against Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, an Atlanta-based grocery distributor. It seems that Atlas was having a problem policing their warehouse. They could not positively identify the culprit named above, who …

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Peter Singer

We’ve arrived at the fifth Sunday in January. Both of my regular readers know that I am now contractually obligated to come up with one more “food ethics icon,” and that given the parameters laid out on January 3, it has to be a full-bore, no-questions-asked philosopher. (For stray web browsers who just happened to …

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Review: Final Rules for FSMA ‘Third-Party Certification,’ ‘Foreign Supplier Verification,’ and ‘Produce Rule’ Regarding Food Fraud and EMA

Three new US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules are effective January 26, 2016 – are you compliant? What about for Food Fraud and EMA? Don’t worry since compliance requirements are at least a year away… but there is a LOT to do. You shouldn’t wait, but the overall compliance may not be as daunting …

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Survey Preliminary Results – What is a ‘Reasonably Foreseeable Hazard’? What is a “Pattern”?

by John Spink • January 25, 2016 • Blog • 0 Comments What will FDA consider a Food Fraud “Known or Reasonably Foreseeable Hazard” and a “Pattern”? Is it one (1) known incident, one in a million or billion transactions? This is a—THE—critical compliance question for the Preventative Controls section of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA-PC). At what point is …

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Karl Marx

Yikes! Although he died peacefully sitting in a London armchair in 1881, Karl Marx’s name still provokes kneejerk responses from Americans of every political persuasion. Totally aside from the fact that listing him means that I have four dead white guys for my 2015 food ethics icons, you would think I might be a little …

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Aristotle

A couple of weeks back when I decided to dedicate this year’s series of blogs on “food ethics icons” to full-bore, no-one-would-raise-an-eyebrow-about-me-calling-them-philosophers philosophers, Aristotle was one of the guys I had in mind. He certainly meets the no-eyebrows-raised criterion. I think it was Alfred North Whitehead who said that all philosophy is a footnote to …

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John Stuart Mill

My second “food ethics icon” for 2016 is John Stuart Mill. Mill is a pretty interesting figure in his own right and certainly one of the most important individuals of the 19th century. Mill inhabited a rarified intellectual and political environment from his London birth in 1806 to his death from a severe skin infection …

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John Locke

Newcomers to the Thornapple Blog may not know that January has been “food ethics icons month” ever since 2011. We started out with some very well-known names and by 2013 we were doing rock-star farmers. Last year the theme was population growth. This year I’ve decided to focus on some bona fide philosopher types, people …

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Truly Exceptional

I got a survey this week asking about my experience getting my car serviced at Williams Volkswagen here in Lansing. I’m very happy with the service department at Williams, by the way. I’ve bought three cars from them in the decade I’ve lived in Michigan. But the survey sent by Volkswagen of America kind of …

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Got My Mo-Zhou Working

I’m writing this week from seat 11J on a long-haul flight homeward bound from China. I spent a week in the vicinity of Nanjing giving some talks at universities and visiting my friend, Xu Huaike. Xu spent a year as a visiting scholar at Michigan State University, and he wanted to show me his home …

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Some Fishy News

Here is a post for those Thornapple Blog readers who rely on me to keep them informed of all the doings in the murky world of food regulatory policy. Of course I have to caution any other innocent soul who happens to have stumbled onto the Blog that the readers who rely on me to …

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Counterfeit Wine Food Fraud Part I: The Challenge of Enforcement and Prosecution with a Review of the Wine Spectator Article

“Counterfeit wine is almost as old as wine itself, a problem that [Roman Philosopher] ‘Pliny the Elder’ decried in first-century Rome.” A wine expert stated that “If someone is faking Miraval, a $25 rose, I could be drinking counterfeit rarities.” This is a review of the November 30, 2015 Wine Spectator Magazine article of the …

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And Still Another Key Blog

We set aside the Sunday after Thanksgiving every year for the key blog. It’s a tone-setting effort that reiterates the environmental theme that is intended to be the overarching orientation to all the other blogs, serious and irreverent, that get written every other Sunday of the year. There is a backstory to the key blog …

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On Statistics, Reporting and Bacon

I’ve previously ranted about the need for a “journalistic analytics” college major, to help with reporting (and editing) news containing statistical analysis. Today I read an otherwise well written article that inadvertently demonstrates how easy it is for even seasoned reporters to slip up. The cover story of the November 9 issue of Time magazine, …

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Whatever Will Bee, Will Bee

I warned you last week that I was heading to a meeting about the difficulties of industry-generated science, so you shouldn’t be too surprised that I am following up on that this morning. Here’s the context: we just don’t trust claims made by representatives of the food industry, even when those claims are putatively backed …

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Pseudonyms

A few weeks back I did a blog about academics and their relationships with big players in the food industry. My point was that we really shouldn’t be shocked, shocked (quoting Captain Louis Renault from Casablanca) when we learn that university scientists share the values and perspectives of major food industry firms. It was, in …

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Breakdown Lane

I’m writing on the bus from Xitou to Taipai City, and the traffic is heavy on Sunday evening. Things run in a smooth and orderly way here in Taiwan, unlike the roads around Beijing. Still and all, I see quite a few drivers zipping past on the right in the breakdown lane at about 70 …

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Corrupt

All joking aside, I am still thinking about the revelation that agricultural scientists were sending e-mails that were supportive of the food industry point of view on several sensitive issues. In all serious I want to suggest that this is less nefarious than it has made out to be. At the same time, it’s more …

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Presentations – MPI Food Protection Conference: “Food Fraud – What It Is, Why It Is Important, Why Now” and “Food Fraud – Global Trends and Prevention Strategies” (MPI, Auckland, New Zealand)

Attached you will find my presentations for October 12 and October 13. This is the Food Protection Conference hosted by the New Zealand Ministry for Private Industries (MPI). MPI oversees commerce and related laws and regulations in New Zealand. The objective of the conference is to provide Food Protection insight and direction for the New …

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