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Friday Finds: McDonalds’ Pink Slime Problem


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10 February 2012, 2:11 AM
Chemical list limbo, idle air pollution laws, green coup
Photo courtesy of Calgary Reviews.

McDonald’s takes pink slime goop out of burgers
It’s official: The next time you have a Big Mac craving, you no longer have to worry about your burger being loaded with pink goo, reports MSNBC. Recently, McDonald’s announced that it is no longer using ammonium hydroxide, an anti-microbrial agent that, when used on inedible scrap meat, turns into a pink slime that’s the basis for your burger. Though the USDA maintains that ammonium hydroxide is “generally recognized as safe,” food safety experts and television celebrity chef Jamie Oliver disagree, arguing that “taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest form for dogs and making it 'fit' for humans” is “shocking.” Not long after Oliver’s show on ammonia-treated beef, McDonald’s announced that it would stop using lean beef trimmings—aka scrap meat—treated with ammonia in its burgers (though McDonald's maintains that the show had nothing to do with its decision). If the idea of pink slime in your burgers doesn’t make you gag, take a look at McDonalds' ridiculous new “farm to fork” video campaign and see if you can hold that burger down.

Check out Jamie Oliver's episode on pink slime: (note: not for the faint of heart)

Toxic chemical list stuck in regulatory limbo
After almost two years, the public is no closer to seeing a list of troublesome chemicals that may pose health risks to humans, reports iWatch News. The so-called “chemicals of concern” list is part of a pledge that EPA administrator Lisa Jackson made in 2009 to improve the U.S.’s outdated chemical regulatory system, the Toxic Substances Control Act. Though the list isn’t final, chemicals like Bisphenol A, phthalates and flame retardants are expected to be on it. Not surprisingly, the chemical industry and other business groups are largely against the list, arguing that even creating such a list “can seriously harm American innovation and jobs.” Of course, putting toxic chemicals in people’s bodies that make them sick can also seriously harm American innovation and jobs, which is one of the reasons why Earthjustice is fighting to require that household cleaning giants disclose the chemical ingredients in their products. Sunshine, after all, is the best disinfectant. 

NYC cops sit idly by for engine idlers
New York City’s engine idling law is doing little to improve air quality because the city’s cops are idle on enforcing the law, reports CNN. NYC’s law against engine idling—which gets zero miles to the gallon but creates plenty of air pollution—has been in effect for some time now. In fact, in 2009 the city decreased the amount of idling time allowed from three minutes to one. But despite the law’s ability to reduce tailpipe fumes, which significantly decrease air quality and increase asthma rates, so far it has had little effect on improving the air because it’s rarely enforced. According to the city’s own estimates, out of about 10,000 parking tickets issued in 2011, only a few thousand were for idling. And since September 2009, traffic enforcement agents have given an average of one ticket per agent, per year. For its part, the city is trying to raise public awareness about idling. According to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, “idling for longer than 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting your engine.” When NYC gas prices are averaging $4/gallon, it's clear that the idea of wasting fuel shouldn't be taken idly.

Eco-friendly Maldives president forced out at gunpoint
This week, Maldives president and environmental advocate Mohamed Nasheed was ousted in a coup by police and army officers who held him at gunpoint, reports the BBC. Nasheed, who worked to raise awareness about climate change during his presidency, was replaced by Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, whom Nasheed accuses of knowing about the plans to oust him. The Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean that's formed by a double chain of 26 atolls and is no more than 5 feet above sea level, is widely considered to be “ground zero” for climate change impacts. Over the past few years, Nasheed has led such sustainability initiatives as making the Maldives the first carbon neutral country by 2020, no small task when leading a nation plagued by high debt and bad credit. In addition to climate change, Nasheed now faces the even trickier situation of wrestling his presidency back from the corrupt allies of the Maldives’ former regime.

 

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