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Moldy Applesauce Whistleblowers Talk Retaliation; USDA Conflicts of Interest Alleged

usdaYesterday, FIC blogged about the KING 5 News investigative story in Washington state, where two former USDA inspectors exposed Snokist's "reprocessing" of moldy applesauce and the agency's dismissal of their complaints. The Seattle-based news outlet has now done a follow-up piece that explores the conflicts of interest between USDA and the food industry that may keep the agency from tackling serious health concerns in the food supply. One highlight:

Records obtained by the KING 5 Investigators show Snokist paid more than a half-million dollars in user fees to the USDA in just over three years. The fees pay for USDA inspections and services to monitor the food Snokist is sending to USDA programs like school lunches and food banks.

The inspectors believe their boss ignored their concerns about the applesauce because he didn’t want to lose the money Snokist’s contract brought in to the USDA.

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USDA Whistleblowers Expose Moldy Applesauce

applesauce_attPhoto via flickr user elidukeHave you eaten reprocessed moldy applesauce? Two USDA inspectors who were assigned to the Snokist Growers fruit processing plant in Washington state – once a major supplier to the national school lunch program but which filed for bankruptcy in December 2011 – reported moldy applesauce concerns to their supervisor but were repeatedly ignored.

KING 5 News reports:

The inspectors say that leaks in the packaging would cause 300 gallon bags of applesauce to spoil. Snokist would scrape thick mold off the top of the spoiled applesauce, heat-treat the remaining product and then send it down the production line for sale to the public.

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Chipotle Ad Criticizes Industrial Agriculture But Ignores Worker Rights

If you watched the Grammy Awards Sunday night, you may have seen Chipotle's two-minute-plus animated anti-factory-farming commercial set to Willie Nelson's cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist." The ad features a farmer who, after acknowledging the troubling impacts of large-scale industrial agriculture, decides to go "Back to the Start" and turn animals out to pasture rather than keep them in crowded CAFOs, pumped with antibiotics and polluting the local water supply.

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Bill Would Set Federal Limits for Arsenic and Lead in Juice

applejuice_factory_attPhoto via wikimedia user Kohn33Given the recent findings of arsenic levels in apple juice that surpassed acceptable limits in drinking water, people may be surprised to hear that no such standards exist to limit the presence of heavy chemicals in juice.

Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a bill this week that would change that, requiring FDA for the first time to set limits for arsenic and lead in fruit juices.

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Trader Joe's Signs Fair Food Agreement with Florida Tomato Farmworkers

traderjoes_attPhoto courtesy of flickr user NESRIGreat news! Yesterday it was announced that Trader Joe’s has, at last, signed an agreement with the Florida-based farmworker organization – the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) – to support the group's Fair Food Program and demand better labor standards from the store's Florida tomato suppliers.

The agreement involves an increase in tomato farmworkers' wages and labor standards, including a Code of Conduct that gives workers a stronger voice if problems arise – vital for these often-stifled would-be whistleblowers at the source of our food supply.

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Farmers Share Concerns About Fracking & Food Safety

Angus_cattleThe list of potential consequences from pumping water and chemicals deep underground in order to break up rock formations and extract natural gas seems to keep getting longer. The process, known as fracking, has grown in controversy … but what exactly is its impact on our food supply?

Energy company secrecy makes it tricky to establish a causal link between fracking and public health threats, but a new study by two veterinarians has gathered anecdotal evidence from concerned farmers. Case studies reveal accounts of sudden deaths of cattle, as well as reproductive and neurological problems in other animals in six states over the Marcellus Shale, where much of the fracking has taken place.

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Drowning in Herbicide: Monsanto Ignores Health Concerns

weedMonsanto, a self-proclaimed solver of global agriculture problems, has really just brought more and more chemicals into our food supply. GAP coalition partner, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), gave the company a failing grade yesterday in documenting eight ways Monsanto has taken agriculture in the wrong direction.

In addition to suppressing independent research on its controversial products and spending millions to lobby Congress against measures that threaten the industrial agriculture status quo, Monsanto has brought troubling threats to human and environmental health with the widespread application of its glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide. UCS points out that the genetically engineered (GE) crops Monsanto produced to tolerate glyphosate were supposedly meant to decrease overall herbicide use, but the result has been millions of pounds more instead. Possible links between glyphosate and birth defects, not to mention threats to biodiversity, make this increase unsettling.

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