Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Going to the movies? Don't touch that popcorn!

From TomPaine.com :

The Case Of The Poison Popcorn

Sometimes the best stuff documenting what I call "E. coli conservatism " is in the back of the newspaper. And in papers you don't read, like the Bakersfield Californian.

This one, in the back of Monday's New York Times , is on the mysterious illness spreading across plants that produce the chemical that gives "microwave popcorn its buttery goodness."
Buttery goodness? I guess that's in the tongue of the be-taster. At any rate, there's a bill in California to ban diactyle, the cause of "popcorn lung" in the workers. ("They can't walk a short distance without severe shortness of breath.")

And why, pray tell, is this bill necessary? Says Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, because America' $3.5 billion flavoring industry is largely allowed to regulate itself. "What we've heard is that the flavoring industry has known for yars that this is potentially a problem, and they haven't taken action," she said.

The E. coli conservative outbreaks: sometimes it's hard to keep track. You'd think you could escape their ravages by moving to a bucolic town way out in the remote California mountains.

You'd be wrong.

In Lake of the Woods, Calif., residents are being told not to drink tap water without boiling it first after E. coli bacteria was detected Thursday in the mountain community's water supply."
The water company's office manager: "Never in 28 years has this happened."

And why might it be happening now? The operative theory is that the contamination came from a broken pipe or septic tank.

Did I mention that broken pipes and septic tanks are a national crisis? That the nation's civic engineers have given our wastewater infrastructure a D-minus? That this is what happens in a nation that pretends there is civic virtue in tax cuts?

Grover Norquist, meet Lake of the Woods Wade Biery. And avoid confronting him in a back alley. Biery's is worried his eight-months-pregnant wife might have ingested some of the poisoned water. "There's part of me that's ready to go down there and lop somebody's head off."

--Rick Perlstein Tuesday, May 8, 2007 1:10 AM


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