Catching Up: Food Edition

I didn’t expect to be away for this many days. I’ve been pre-occupied, so Rolling Doughnut has taken the hit. You know the rest, so I’ll just get to a recap of some news items of interest lately.

I first read about proposed changes to chocolate standards via this entry at A Stitch in Haste. From a few days later than the original story Kip linked, the Washington Post summarizes the changes, which would allow “chocolate” to include other vegetable fat in place of cocoa butter and still be called chocolate. (There’s a story in the FDA’s regulation of such, and the politics of this apparently rent-seeking change, of course.) If enacted, this change doesn’t bother me because I like dark chocolate exclusively, even before I limited myself to it through veganism. It simply tastes better. And I care enough to look at ingredients. To the people like me who care, this change will mean little.

For example, it doesn’t harm me as a chocolate lover/buyer if Hershey’s can start calling Whoppers “chocolate”, even though they already contain no cocoa butter. I’m not their customer. I’ll venture a guess that most chocolate buyers don’t have an especially refined palette for the difference. I’m not judging in that; I don’t have a refined palette for many things, so little nuances escape me.

We’re all different. The market for fine chocolate, or real chocolate, will determine how important this change is if it’s implemented. That’s enough. Besides, I’m more up in arms about the fact that companies like Hershey’s advertises its products as “dark” chocolate when it has milk in it.

Next up, following the recent pet food scare, several thousand hogs destined for human consumption appear contaminated with the same chemical (melamine) because they consumed the contaminated pet food. The risk to humans is allegedly small. I don’t eat pork, so I don’t care, mostly. I do find this fascinating:

A maximum of about 300 of the animals may have already entered the human food supply, but the rest of the hogs have been quarantined and are slated to be euthanized, Agriculture Department officials said.

It’s good to know that if animals become tainted, they’ll be euthanized. Humane treatment for the sick is decent. What about the millions of hogs who aren’t sick? Here’s an example showing how hogs are slaughtered. (Warning: Link has graphic pictures.)

Officials emphasized that the human health risks of eating pork from animals fed the contaminated food are very low. The decision to keep those animals off the market — and to reimburse farmers for the losses — was made in the interest of extreme prudence, they said.

If the hogs ate contaminated feed, that sounds like a tort in which whoever bought the tainted feed could sue the feed producer for the damage done to the hogs. Why should the government taxpayers foot the bill for such negligence?