Monday, February 8, 2010
You might think that "pre washed" and "triple-washed" salad greens sold in plastic clamshells or bags are squeaky clean. But our recent tests found room for improvement.
No, we didn't find pathogens such as
E. coli O157:H7, listeria, or salmonella. With our small sample size—208 containers representing 16 brands purchased at stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York—we didn't expect to. (The Department of Agriculture, in a test of more than 4,000 samples of loose and packaged salad in 2008, found salmonella in two of them. All of our tests included packaged greens.)
But in our samples, all of which were within their use-by date, we did find bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination—in some cases, at rather high levels.
We tested for total coliforms and for other bacteria, including enterococcus, that are better indicators of fecal contamination. Federal action limits exist for indicator organisms in water, raw meat, milk, and some processed foods, but not produce. Those organisms are typically used to gauge possible pathogen contamination.
Several industry experts we consulted suggested that for leafy greens, an unacceptable level of total coliforms or enterococcus is 10,000 or more colony forming units per gram (CFU/g) or a comparable estimate. In our tests, 39 percent of samples exceeded that level for total coliforms and 23 percent for enterococcus.
Results varied widely among samples, even within the same brand, from undetectable levels of those bacteria to more than 1 million CFU/g. Packages with higher bacteria levels had similarities. Many contained spinach and were one to five days from their use-by date. Packages six to eight days from their use-by date fared better. Whether the greens came in a clamshell or bag, included "baby" greens, or were organic made no difference.
Brands for which we had more than four samples, including national brands Dole, Earthbound Farm Organic, and Fresh Express, plus regional and store brands, had at least one package with relatively high levels of total coliforms or enterococcus. Our tests were conducted at an outside lab over two weeks in August and September with financial support from the Pew Health Group, which is working to improve food safety.
Consumers Union supports Senate Bill 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, that would, among other things, require the Food and Drug Administration to set stronger produce safety standards. Those should include performance standards for indicators of fecal contamination, such as generic E. coli and enterococcus.
What you can do
- Buy packages as far from their use-by date as you can find.
- Even if the bag says "prewashed" or "triple-washed," wash the greens yourself. Rinsing won't remove all bacteria but may remove residual soil.
- Prevent cross contamination by keeping greens away from raw meat. For more information, go to www.ConsumersUnion.org/safefood.
South Carolina now requires ’subversives’ to register - $5 fee for persons planning to overthrow US government -
Five-dollar registration fee for persons planning to overthrow US government
Terrorists who want to overthrow the United States government must now register with South Carolina's Secretary of State and declare their intentions -- or face a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.
The state's "Subversive Activities Registration Act," passed last year and now officially on the books, states that "every member of a subversive organization, or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent and every person who advocates, teaches, advises or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States ... shall register with the Secretary of State."
There's even a $5 filing fee.
By "subversive organization," the law means "every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or organization, composed of two or more persons, which directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States [or] of this State."
Story continues below...
A PDF of the registration form can be found here, courtesy of FitsNews.
The law also gives subversive organizations "subject to foreign control" 30 days to register with the state after setting up shop in South Carolina.
While the intention of the law is apparently aimed at Islamic terrorists, it's unclear in the law's wording whether it can be applied to right-wing militias, some of whom have reputedly called for the overthrow of the US government. The law states that "fraternal" and "patriotic" groups are exempt from the law, but only if they don't "contemplate the overthrow of the government."
While the law is clearly redundant -- there are plenty of statutes at the state and federal level through which terrorists can be prosecuted -- it reflects a not-uncommon pattern in some states of "doubling down" against particular crimes.
For instance, South Carolina is among those states which require drug dealers to declare their illegal income, or face additional criminal penalties on top of the already established penalties for buying, possessing and selling drugs.
The South Carolina blog FitsNews describes the new law as "bureaucracy for terrorists."
"In the long and storied history of utterly retarded legislation in South Carolina, we may have finally found the legal statute that takes the cake for sheer stupidity, which we think youâll agree is saying something," the unsigned blog posting scathingly commented.
Read more - http://rawstory.com/2010/02/south-carolinas-subversive-activities-registration-act-force/
Tim Geithner says U.S. is in no danger of losing its Aaa debt rating even though the Obama predicted a $1.6 T deficit in 2010
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the U.S. is in no danger of losing its Aaa debt rating even though the Obama administration has predicted a $1.6 trillion budget deficit in 2010.
“Absolutely not,” Geithner said, when asked in an ABC News interview broadcast yesterday whether a downgrade is a concern. “That will never happen to this country.”
Geithner said investors around the world turn to U.S. Treasury securities and dollar-denominated assets whenever they are worried about global stability. That reflects “basic confidence” in the U.S. and its ability to bounce back from the global recession, he said.
Moody’s Investors Service Inc. last week said the U.S. government’s bond rating will come under pressure in the future unless additional measures are taken to reduce budget deficits projected for the next decade.
The U.S. plans to rein in the deficit once the labor market recovers, Geithner said. In the short run, that means focusing on ways to “make sure that this economy is growing again,” he said. The administration says the deficit will shrink over the next four years as more Americans find jobs and the economy accelerates.
“This is within our capacity to do,” Geithner said.
The Obama administration has proposed additional tax cuts and small-business assistance in its bid to jumpstart the U.S. economy. Geithner and other officials have said it’s too soon to start cutting spending because ending stimulus programs now could derail the economy.
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who was first deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund from 1994 to 2001, said today he agreed with Geithner’s assessment that the U.S. wasn’t in danger of losing its Aaa debt rating.
“That’s very unlikely,” Fischer said in an interview in Sydney, where he was attending a symposium organized by the Reserve Bank of Australia to celebrate its 50th anniversary. “I don’t know who else would be the gold standard at this stage.”
Geithner said the risk of a “double dip” recession in the U.S. has declined, particularly given recent reports showing the economy grew at a 5.7 percent pace in the fourth quarter of last year.
“We have much, much lower risk of that today than at any time over the last 12 months or so,” Geithner said. “We are beginning the process of healing.”
Geithner defended the Obama administration’s efforts to help homeowners avoid foreclosure through subsidized mortgage modifications. When asked why few homeowners have so far received permanent reworked loans, the Treasury chief responded that the administration is “absolutely committed” to following through on its promises.
“For eligible Americans -- they’re getting permanent modifications that substantially lower their monthly payment,” he said. “For the average household that translates into hundreds and hundreds of dollars every month for them.”
Geithner taped the interview before heading to Iqaluit, in Canada’s northern territory of Nunavut, for a meeting with finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrial nations. He told ABC that he wasn’t worried that tighter financial regulation would put U.S. banks at an international disadvantage.
“I’m very confident we can make sure that we are working very closely to raise global standards around the world so we have a level playing field,” Geithner said.
A body was found inside a wheel well of a Delta Air Lines plane after it landed in Tokyo from New York -
The body of the apparent stowaway was clad only in a long-sleeved, plaid shirt and jeans, police at Narita International Airport said.
A mechanic found the body lying inside the landing gear compartment of the Boeing 777-200 during maintenance after Delta Flight 59 landed Sunday night, police official Zenjiro Watanabe said.
"All we know is that he must have sneaked in just before departure, because it is impossible for him to enter the storage during flight," Watanabe said. Police are trying to identify the man.
He had no visible injuries except frostbite and may have died of hypothermia, Watanabe said. The temperature in that part of the plane falls to about minus 58 degrees during the long flight.
Police were investigating the case both as an accident and a possible crime, Watanabe said.
Delta officials were not immediately available for comment.
Similar cases have occurred in the past. In 2007, a man was found dead in the nose gear wheel well on a United Airlines flight that arrived in San Francisco from Shanghai. He, too, was thought to be a stowaway.