First, happy belated New Year to all! I trust the year switched over with little to no incident, except for maybe one killer hangover. To kick off a new year, and a new decade, I offer one major, new resolution. My boy Talidan hipped me to a couple of articles that, at first, set my hair on fire. While my head is still on fire, I’m not all that surprised.
The first article can be found at The Raw Story, which tells of a 1976 law which allows chemical makers to keep their chemicals secret, only if it “could harm their bottom line.” Ugh.
Of some 84,000 chemicals being used commercially in the United States, some 20 percent -- or 17,000 -- are kept secret not only from the public, but from medical professionals, state regulators and even emergency responders, according to a report at the Washington Post.
Because they are secret, it's impossible to tell how many of the 17,000 chemicals are potentially harmful to people. But the Post notes that, in March of last year, more than half of the "substantial risk" reports filed with the EPA involved secret chemicals.
The Washington Post story explains the original purpose:
The policy was designed 33 years ago to protect trade secrets in a highly competitive industry. But critics -- including the Obama administration -- say the secrecy has grown out of control, making it impossible for regulators to control potential dangers or for consumers to know which toxic substances they might be exposed to.
Fascinating. Now that I think about it, I can hear my brain cells pop to a spectacular end right now! Then, there was this little tidbit from the New York Times tossed my way regarding what they’re putting in our ground beef:
Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.
Yeah, you read that right. Ammonia. Same shit that burns your eyes, stinks to the high heavens, and leaves your toilet sparkling is being put into our hamburger. Of course, there’s more:
Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.
With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.
But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.
How stupid is this? When do we as a nation stop allowing companies to profit at our expense. Look, I’ve said it many times, I’m all for profit, but not at my family’s, my friends, or my neighbor’s well being! How do we know that one of those 17,000 secret chemicals isn’t the cause of autism? We don’t, and according to the law as it’s written, we never will. How is it that the U.S.D.A., an organization that is supposed to protect our food supply, allow a company to inject ammonia into beef?!? If there’s E. coli in the beef, throw it the fuck out! In this case, I don’t care about how many tons of beef is saved or the meat packing industry’s profits! It’s insane!
Therefore, for this decade, it’s time we demand to know exactly what’s in the stuff we use and eat and what it does to us. If that means that Coke has to give up their secret formula, then give it up, Coke. That’s probably ammonia too.
In the meantime, next time you have a Big Mac attack, think of your sparkling fixtures and then think of your insides. Seeing as how we know nothing about those 17,000 chemicals, well, all I can do is wish the best. Hell, for all I know, I’m probably typing on something that’s slowly melting my fingertips.