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Friday Finds: Where's the (Tainted) Beef?

Bacteria-resistant meat leaves beef lovers nauseated
A recent study found that nearly half of all beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased at grocery stores across the country contained drug-resistant bacteria, reports Wired. Even worse, 52 percent of the meat contaminated with the common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus was resistant to at least three antibiotics commonly used by both doctors and vets, which means that “roughly one out of every four packages of meat and poultry across the United States contained multidrug resistant staph.” The researchers believe that the pathogens came from the livestock, which are routinely fed antibiotics to promote growth, but have the major downside of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. This latest study is just one of many that have shed light on government’s flawed food safety system, which critics believe is in need of a major overhaul.  
 

Ditching cars in Times Square improves air quality
Back in the 1980s, Times Square was known for crime and prostitution. By the 1990s, after city officials cleaned up the place, it became a magnet for tourists and theatergoers enthralled with the bright lights of the big city. Now, thanks to NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, Times Square may soon be known for its green attributes, like cleaner air and more public spaces. Grist reports that the city’s new pedestrian plazas—traffic-free areas throughout the square—are unsurprisingly, improving air quality. So far, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide levels have gone down 63 and 41 percent, respectively. This latest measure makes it clear that New Yorkers feel they have a right to breathe. Do you?

 

Eating creepy crawlers could cure environment ills
As the global population increases and food supplies decrease, the movement to start munching on bugs instead of cows, chickens and pigs is growing, reports Der Spiegel. Recently, celebrity English chef Thomasina “Tommi” Miers cooked up salted worms, sautéed crickets and roasted ants for a group of individuals at the “Grand Banquet of Rainforest Insects,” an event held at the Museum of Natural History at Oxford University to help raise support for saving the rainforest by eating bugs, which have a much smaller eco-footprint than other animals, but are loaded with protein. Though the idea still makes most Westerners cringe, bug-eating has long been a practice in the rest of the world. As the article points out, even the Bible recommends eating locusts.

Energy companies drill into nation’s debt with unpaid royalties
While congressional leaders friendly to the oil and gas industry call for more drilling, the Interior Department is letting millions—and possibly billions—of dollars in unpaid royalties from energy companies slip through its fingers, reports the Center for Public Integrity. By law, energy companies are required to pay a tiny percentage of their profit from extracting oil and gas from public lands to the government, but a combination of inadequate staffing and technology, antiquated royalty collection laws and poor communication keeps the Interior Department from checking up on whether these companies are paying their fair share. As Congress makes calls to gut the U.S Environmental Protection Agency—all in the name of fiscal conservatism—keep in mind that “if taxpayers are missing just 3 percent of royalties — a conservative estimate from sources contacted by iWatch News — the missing amount would be into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.” ­
 

BPA-free plastic still not that fantastic
Substitutes for Bisphenol A, a common plastics additive that’s been linked to everything from infertility to diabetes, could be as or more harmful than the synthetic estrogen itself, reports the New York Times. As the public becomes more aware of the dangers of BPA, companies have begun marketing a whole host of BPA-free and plant-based alternatives for items like baby bottles and soup cans. But a recent study found that even these products leach chemicals that have estrogenic activity, which points out the larger issue of badly needed chemical reform so that we don’t keep replacing one bad chemical with another. Recently, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2001, which is supposed to update the wildly outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. As this most recent incident has shown, when it comes to chemical policy, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

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