Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Bioterrorism made easy: the contaminated pet food wheat gluten was "food grade"

The topic of conversation at the breakfast table this morning was wheat gluten. From the fact that the teff porridge I was stirring on the stove didn't have any gluten to the recent pet food recall was an easy mental jump. From contaminated pet food to bioterrorism was another easy leap.

I doubt any terrorists are still dreaming of mushroom clouds or hijacking airplanes. They now have easier alternatives. The latest possibility: attack the food chain, because it has proven so vulnerable.

No, I don't mean dumping more e-coli onto the spinach fields (though how do we know it wasn't a test of bioterrorism?). Check this out: the melamine-contaminated wheat gluten that killed pets and was responsible for a massive recall was food grade. Yes, it could have (and might have) been used in human food.

If you don't feel queasy enough already, read this article by Huffington Post blogger David Goldstein: Tainted Wheat Gluten Sold as "Food Grade." An excerpt from the article, and the reason we all should be concerned:
Wheat gluten is sold in both "food grade" and "feed grade" varieties. Either may be used in pet food, but only "food grade" gluten may be used in the manufacture of products meant for human consumption. Published reports have thus far focused on tainted pet food, but if the gluten in question entered the human food supply through a major food products supplier and processor, it could potentially contaminate thousands of products and hundreds of millions of units nationwide.

Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine said the FDA is not aware of any contaminated gluten that went into human food but said he could not confirm this "with 100 percent certainty." Wheat gluten is a common food additive used as a thickener, dough conditioner, and meat substitute. It is widely used as an additive in commercial bakery items and special purpose flours.
Look how vulnerable we are here in Hawaii. We could be a prime target for terrorists because of the huge military population involved with the Pacific Command. Of course, where bioterrorism is concerned, the good stuff is classified, so there are things we know about and lots that we don't, and even the things we know about are very scary. Who would have thought that a Russian journalist could have been poisoned with a teeny bit of a radioactive substance very few of us had even heard about before?

Imagine that substance in the water supply. Far fetched? I don't know. If it's easier for you, imagine a gigantic recall of baked products should melamine be discovered in the baguettes.

An article discussing this further appeared on the DailyKos last week: DHS and the coming food disaster:
The pet food contamination incident is certain to catch the attention of terrorists looking for a vulnerability to exploit. But, even without a terrorist threat, the current food system would be a disaster waiting to happen.
So I'll leave you with the above articles and the sobering thought that Bush's defanged FDA may be our only line of defense.


Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older