Toxic ships, BPA-free soup, bicycle buses
Photo courtesy of fox_kiyo
U.S. schools buying McDonald’s pink slime rejects
It’s baaaaack. Last month, burger enthusiasts rejoiced after McDonald’s announced that it would no longer be using ammonium hydroxide, an anti-microbrial agent that, when used on inedible scrap meat turns into a pink slime, as the basis for their burgers. But they may have sighed in relief a little prematurely, according to the Washington Post, which recently reported that the “USDA, schools and school districts plan to buy the treated beef…for the national school-lunch program in coming months.” Though the FDA considers ammonium hydroxide as “generally recognized as safe,” food safety advocates and parents beg to differ and have called on the government to stop feeding children beef scraps that were previously destined for pet food. In addition to the moral and health implications of feeding our kids dog food, the anti-bacterial treatment doesn’t seem to be all that effective. According to a 2009 NYT piece, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in meat from Beef Products Inc., the company from which the USDA and schools are planning to buy the ammonium hydroxide-treated meat.
Navy dumps old, toxic ships into ocean for target practice
The Navy’s ship dumping program is polluting the ocean and scrapping much-needed recycling jobs, reports the Associated Press. For years, the Navy has been dumping its old ships into the ocean as part of a program known as “Sinkex," short for sinking exercises. Though the Navy has found ship-dumping to be an inexpensive way to send its ghost ships to the grave, the problem is that the massive boats are loaded with toxic chemicals like PCBs, asbestos, lead and mercury that may contaminate the water and local fish populations. In fact, new data from a study in Florida supports the conclusion that PCBs, dumped during ship sinking exercises, are leaching from the sunken vessels and are entering the marine food chain, making nearby fish unsafe for human consumption. Late last year, Earthjustice sued the EPA for its ongoing failure to regulate the ship-sinking program, arguing that the agency is “legally required to keep dangerous chemicals like PCBs out of our oceans.” In addition to trashing the ocean, the ship-sinking program takes away recycling jobs that could stimulate local economies and squanders natural resources.
Campbell’s to nix BPA in can linings
Campbell’s soups will no longer come with a side of the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA, reports the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Recently, the Campbell’s Soup Company joined the ranks of many other brands in announcing that it will phase out BPA—which has been shown to cause maladies such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, to name just a few—from the linings of its soup cans. The transition, which is expected to happen as soon as “feasible alternatives are available,” comes at an opportune time. At the end of the month, the FDA is expected to make a decision on whether the chemical should be banned in all packaging for food and beverages. In the meantime, soup lovers can get their canned soup fix from companies like Eden Foods and Trader Joes, which jumped on the BPA-free bandwagon years ago. Or, they can make their own soups. Just make sure to store them in a glass container!
Dutch kids using bicycle buses to get to school
School kids in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are busing to school with new bicycle buses that allow passengers to peddle themselves, reports Treehugger. The bike bus, which can hold eleven kids up to the age of 12 and one adult driver, is not only environmentally friendly; it also gives kids much-needed exercise and a lesson in the value of teamwork. And for the times when there are few passengers or steep inclines, the bike bus comes with a built in electric motor. Though the Dutch are leading the way in the bike bus movement by purchasing the first-ever fleet of bicycle school buses, reports Treehugger, orders elsewhere are coming in fast. The U.S. has yet to jump on board, but that may change once school administrators realize that the costs of bicycle buses, around $15,000 each, are actually pretty affordable when considering that the cost of diesel fuel is almost $7,000 per bus, per year, according to the American School Bus Council.