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04/10/2003 "check out this interesting log; SoyJoy"

STERN PUBLIC FACE Standing firm at a Meat Safety conference and essentially declaring War on E. Coli yet again, the agency said federal inspectors have started regularly taking meat samples from all meatpacking plants, not just those that lacked testing programs.


TYRANNICAL PRIVATE FACE Meanwhile, when those inspectors do anything about non-compliant plants are like to be retaliated against and suspended by the USDA, as were two federal meat inspectors in the New York area - they were suspended for reporting possible misconduct by other inspectors, according to a ruling by an administrative judge made public yesterday.


As the New York Times notes, "Inspectors in California and Arkansas have made similar claims of harsh treatment." And "an inspector in Pennsylvania said in December that safety officials had brushed aside his concerns about a plant linked to an outbreak of food-poisoning by the listeria bacteria that killed eight people.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON ALERT: Explain this one to me, will you? "Judge Ruggiero issued the decision on Tuesday, but it was not made public until [Friday]." Uh..........huh.

BACKSLAPPING CRONY FACE Topping off all of last year's drought-connected bailouts for livestock producers, the USDA announced "Additional Livestock Assistance" to many states, in the form of "surplus USDA stocks of non-fat dry milk." At least it's good to see the problem-solving capacity at work - remember all that nonfat dry milk they were trying to clear out of warehouses a few months ago?

Here's an interesting British legal action that looks destined to go the way of the first McDonalds lawsuit - being tarred "frivolous" and losing the verdict but winning great changes from the company in the long run, both legally and socioeconomically. The Independent reports that the legality of 'broiler' chicken farming is being challenged over there: "Compassion in World Farming lodged papers in the High Court this week [asking] the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ban fast-growing broiler chickens, which make up the majority of the market." The charity cited "leg deformities and heart failure" in the chickens as forms of (banned) cruelty.

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