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Editorial: Promoting the plastic bag ban - Kankakee Daily Journal

Plastic Bag Bans - August 01, 2014

Editorial: Promoting the plastic bag ban
Kankakee Daily Journal
30Landfill4.jpg. Over the years, disposable plastic bags have not only become a nuisance, but also a threat to the environment. Buy this photo. Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2014 1:41 am | Updated: 1:41 am, Sat Aug 2, 2014. Editorial: Promoting the ...

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America's firearms culture forged by paranoia, racism and civil rights unrest - National Post

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

National Post

America's firearms culture forged by paranoia, racism and civil rights unrest
National Post
On the same day, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill that would ban any local government from enforcing ordinances that restrict the open carrying of firearms. “Kansans have long believed the right to bear arms is a constitutional right,” he ...

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The Potential Benefits of Industrial Hemp in Costa Rica - The Costa Rica News

Bioplastic - August 01, 2014

The Costa Rica News

The Potential Benefits of Industrial Hemp in Costa Rica
The Costa Rica News
Hemp fibers are also used in combination with other plant-based fibers to create bio plastic and composite materials. Like numerous other types of bio plastic, hemp plastic is biodegradable. This constitutes an undeniable asset when considering the ...

Categories: Business

Ericksen responds to negative fliers sent by Fleetwood supporters - Bellingham Herald

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

Bellingham Herald

Ericksen responds to negative fliers sent by Fleetwood supporters
Bellingham Herald
“Doug Ericksen helped kill a transportation bill that would have put hundreds of local people to work repairing our roads and bridges and stimulating our local economy with millions of dollars.” -- “Doug Ericksen has been a politician for 16 years, yet ...

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Bill Young's widow struggles to find peace and meaning in life without ... - Tampabay.com

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

Bill Young's widow struggles to find peace and meaning in life without ...
Tampabay.com
I drank beer out of the bottle." At 18, she married a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy and became a medic. Then a mom. Her son Robbie was 3 when she got divorced. On May 11, 1982, she was at the Fireman's Ball in Pinellas Park when Rep. Bill Young came ...

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Letters: Plastic bag ban raises hackles - Newsday

Plastic Bag Bans - August 01, 2014

Letters: Plastic bag ban raises hackles
Newsday
It saves me money that I would otherwise spend on plastic bags in the same supermarkets. So tell me what the difference is. To me, a plastic bag is a plastic bag. Is this ban a big-business way of forcing people to buy products they now get for free?

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Categories: News Feeds

Final USDA poultry rule: Line speeds stay the same, but no word from OSHA; food safety advocates call it a step backwards

Pump Handle - August 01, 2014

For 17 years, Salvadora Roman deboned chickens on the processing line at Wayne Farms in Decatur, Alabama. In particular, she deboned the left side of the chicken — a task she was expected to perform on three chickens each minute during her eight-hour shift. Because of the repetitive movement and speed of the processing line, Roman developed a chronic and painful hand injury that affects her ability to do even the most basic household chores. About three years ago, she was fired from the plant for taking time off work to visit a doctor for the injury she sustained on the line.

“My hand started to become swollen and the more that I worked, the more swollen it got,” Roman told me through a translator with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “It was stressful to see the chickens pass…I would work faster, but my hand would swell.”

So when Roman heard that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was considering a proposal to increase the maximum allowed line speed from 140 birds per minute to 175 per minute, she decided to speak out. Last week, she traveled to Washington, D.C., with advocates from SPLC to tell her story during a meeting with representatives from USDA and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. At the meeting, SPLC advocates urged officials to reject the line speed proposal and distributed a copy of their petition calling on OSHA to regulate production line work speeds within the poultry and meatpacking industries.

“It isn’t a just thing to do,” Roman said of the proposed increase. “The lines are fast as it is.”

Yesterday, USDA officially rejected the proposed increase, keeping max speeds at 140 chickens per minute. However, worker safety advocates aren’t ready to celebrate. Basically, they say, USDA decided not to make an already bad situation any worse, which does little to prevent future injuries or support workers who are already hurt.

“We’re certainly happy that the line speed is not going to increase, but I think we’re still concerned that worker safety is not being adequately addressed,” said Michelle Lapointe, SPLC staff attorney. “We has asked OSHA to institute rulemaking on worker safety related to line speed and they haven’t done so…the line speed even at rates that they are moving now are too fast and are causing injury to workers.”

The line speed increase was part of a larger proposed rule that USDA refers to as “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection,” which includes big changes to food safety oversight as well (more on that below). Yesterday, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held a news conference announcing the final rule, which goes into effect immediately. Vilsack said the agency responded to worker safety concerns by refusing to increase maximum line speeds and putting in place additional requirements, such as a new 1-800 number that food safety inspectors can use to report workplace hazards directly to OSHA.

Tony Corbo, senior lobbyist for the food campaign at Food & Water Watch, said that while USDA may have rejected the line speed increase, the final rule essentially does nothing for workers.

“It’s meaningless,” Corbo told me. “There won’t be any enforceable regulations to deal with worker safety and injuries will still occur. …Where are the accompanying regulations to make sure injuries don’t occur in the first place?”

Plus, Corbo said, the 20 plants that were participating in piloting the new rule are exempt and can continue to run their line speeds at more than 140 birds per minute. Corbo was equally doubtful that training food inspectors to spot workplace hazards would do much good. With the rule decreasing the number of federal food safety inspectors on the processing line, how will the remaining inspectors find the time to monitor worker safety, he asked.

In “Unsafe At These Speeds: Alabama’s Poultry Industry and its Disposable Workers,” SPLC and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice found that nearly three-quarters of the more than 300 current and former poultry workers interviewed reported suffering a significant work-related injury and illness. Common injuries and illnesses include debilitating hand pain, gnarled fingers, chemical burns, respiratory problems and carpal tunnel syndrome. The majority of workers surveyed attributed their injuries to the speed of the processing line. OSHA reported an injury rate of 5.9 percent for workers in poultry processing plants in 2010 — a rate that was more than 50 percent higher than the national injury rate for all workers. While USDA said the final modernization rule will improve worker safety, it’ll likely do little to change a workplace culture that places little value on worker well-being. According to the report:

Workers speaking freely outside of work describe what one called a climate of fear within these plants. It’s a world where employees are fired for work-related injuries or even for seeking medical treatment from someone other than the company nurse or doctor. In this report, they describe being discouraged from reporting work-related injuries, enduring constant pain and even choosing to urinate on themselves rather than invite the wrath of a supervisor by leaving the processing line for a restroom break. …

OSHA, which regulates the health and safety of workers in this country, has no set of mandatory guidelines tailored to protect poultry processing workers. Workers cannot bring a lawsuit to prevent hazardous working conditions or even to respond to an employer’s retaliation if they complain of safety hazards or other abusive working conditions. Many live in rural areas and have no other way to make a living, which means they must accept the abuse or face economic ruin.

Lapointe told me that while the poultry plants have doctors or nurses on site, she’s heard reports from many workers who say they’re just sent back out to the line with some pain relievers or an ice pack. Roman said she once spoke up about her hand injury and a supervisor’s assistant took her to the plant nurse, who put some lotion on her hand, gave her an ice pack and sent her back to the line. Roman and her co-workers were also subject to a strict attendance system, in which workers earn points for each missed work day — even a day missed due to medical reasons — and once they reach a certain number of points, they’re fired. That’s what happened to Roman, who’s paying for her own medical expenses in relation to the hand injury.

Lapointe said SPLC will continue to pressure the administration to enact better workplace protections for poultry workers. Last year, SPLC submitted a petition to OSHA urging the agency to adopt regulations to protect poultry workers, but there’s been no response.

“Americans eat a lot of chicken,” Lapointe told me. “As we become more conscious as a society about where our produce comes from and sustainability in terms of the environment, I would suggest that we also need to talk about the workers who bring it to our tables. It’s really time for us as a society to think about the workers who are being injured and whose health is suffering so that we can eat 50 pounds of chicken per person per year.”

Food safety: ‘We’re heading backwards’

The finalized poultry modernization rule also authorizes a new food safety inspection system — and it’s one that’s being roundly criticized by food safety advocates.

The new inspection system, which USDA emphasized is optional but which advocates predict most poultry plants will adopt, reduces the number of federal food safety inspectors on the processing line and hands over much of the visual inspection responsibility to the plant. The rule will also require all plants (this is not optional) to engage in more microbiological testing in addition to the testing that USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service conducts. Plants will get to choose which pathogen to test for — campylobacter or salmonella.

According to USDA, reducing the number of inspectors on the processing line will free them up for other safety duties, such as ensuring sanitation standards are met and verifying compliance with various food safety rules. During yesterday’s USDA media call, Secretary Vilsack said the new rule is an “opportunity to bring the inspection system for poultry into the 21st century.” He also said the rule could lead to 5,000 fewer food-borne illnesses every year. Corbo at Food & Water Watch vehemently disagrees.

Corbo said the new system leaves the one USDA inspector left on the slaughter line to inspect 2.33 birds every second. Under the traditional system, each inspector could only inspect 35 birds per minute, which would have required four inspectors on a line that was running at 140 birds per minute.

“Instead of having a full complement of inspectors on the slaughter lines, you’re going to have one inspector at the end of the line,” Corbo told me. “It’s essentially taking us back to when we had no inspectors at all. We’re heading backwards here. Instead of having more inspectors and giving USDA authority to actually prevent food-borne illness, it essentially turns everything over to the companies.”

Corbo noted that salmonella and campylobacter are not officially considered adulterants and so even if a carcass tests positive for the pathogens, USDA can’t legally prevent it from going to market. In June, Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., introduced legislation that would designate as adulterants certain types of campylobacter and salmonella that are antibiotic-resistant. Food & Water Watch had previously received documents via a Freedom of Information Act request on the thoroughness of inspectors employed by poultry plants, finding that regulations were not being enforced.

Corbo said Food & Water Watch is exploring all options to stop the rule, including possible litigation.

For more information on the new poultry rule, visit USDA, SPLC or Food & Water Watch.

(Special thanks to Eva Cardenas at Southern Poverty Law Center for serving as a translator during the interview with Salvadora Roman.)

Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for more than a decade.

Categories: Health

2014 Statewide ballot questions - wwlp.com

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

2014 Statewide ballot questions
wwlp.com
Question 2 is an expansion of the Bottle bill, to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic non-carbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption. Question 3 seeks to repeal the casino gambling law. Question 4 would entitle ...

Categories: News Feeds

Young BPA actors revive a pop culture classic with 'Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.' - Bainbridge Island Review

BPA - August 01, 2014

Young BPA actors revive a pop culture classic with 'Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.'
Bainbridge Island Review
The students of the Bainbridge Performing Arts summer theatre school will present “Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.” for three shows only beginning Friday, August 1. The musical tells viewers the tale of Tom, a nervous newbie teacher about to meet his first ...

Categories: News Feeds

11 events you won't want to miss at Ypsi-Arbor Beer Week - The Ann Arbor News

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

11 events you won't want to miss at Ypsi-Arbor Beer Week
The Ann Arbor News
Two drafts and two special bottle items, plus a specialty screening of the movie Anchorman. Stay classy! 5. Craft Beer ... Come to Bill's Beer Garden for a blind tasting of Michigan and Ohio beers from Great Lakes Brewing and a mix of Michigan craft ...

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EPA Tightens Beach Pollution Monitoring

Heal the Bay - August 01, 2014

Since the 2012 release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial Recreational Beach Water Quality Criteria, Heal the Bay, the NRDC and a coalition of environmental groups have been working with the EPA on aspects of implementation. While we had significant reservations about  the lowered standards for allowable beach pollution, our policy team has been offering input on how to strengthen overall public health protection and notification measures.

The 2012 criteria recommend the use of more protective standards for determining when to notify the public about health risks at chronically polluted beaches. The EPA may have developed these so-called Beach Action Values, or BAVs, but the government agency did not require their use.

Well, after months of lobbying, we received a bit of good news this week.

The EPA’s new Beach Guidance Document makes a better effort to incentivize the use of BAVs. To access federal funds for regular beach monitoring, states will have to employ more protective BAVs when making decisions to post beaches or even close them temporarily because of bacterial pollution.

This is a big win for public health protection. The document does include a high-bar exception for states that can scientifically justify use of a different threshold. We hope that California and other coastal states will recognize that the more protective BAV value is the only justifiable approach for adequate public health protection.

While EPA’s action is a big win in protecting the future health of beach-goers, more federal support is needed to broaden the scope of the BEACH Act. The act mandates regular monitoring of all coastal beaches in the U.S. for levels of bacterial pollution. With more than 180 million visits each year to American beaches, it’s simply time to invest in more protective and consistent monitoring. A day at the beach should never make anyone sick.

Categories: Oceans

3p Weekend: 7 Companies Investing in Sustainable Packaging - Triple Pundit

Bioplastic - August 01, 2014

Triple Pundit

3p Weekend: 7 Companies Investing in Sustainable Packaging
Triple Pundit
Potatoes are a huge part of Maine's farming sector, and the company has a long-term opportunity to divert food waste or crops that are below food-grade from landfills and churn them into bio-plastic resin. Tom's pinpointed its mouthwash bottles and ...

Categories: Business

Review committee says 2011 liquid styrene study stands - Plastics News

Polysterene - August 01, 2014

Review committee says 2011 liquid styrene study stands
Plastics News
Though many consumer groups were quick to confuse clear liquid styrene with polystyrene foam it is used to make, the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) calmly pointed out that the new report ...

Categories: News Feeds

3p Weekend: 7 Companies Investing in Sustainable Packaging

Triple Pundit - August 01, 2014
From mushrooms and potatoes to the quest for a recyclable toothpaste tube, this week we're tipping our hats to seven companies that are leading the charge in sustainable packaging design.

The Role of Touch in Business

Triple Pundit - August 01, 2014
According to one researcher, “Hugs have positive impacts on self-esteem, relationships and upon the body’s ability to cope with stress.”

Peter Lucas: Lt. governor is one office we can leave vacant - The Sun

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

Peter Lucas: Lt. governor is one office we can leave vacant
The Sun
It is too bad the issue of the lieutenant governor's job is not on the ballot for voter ratification, like casino gambling, or the gas tax, or the bottle bill. The public should be allowed to vote on whether to abolish the office or not. If the office ...

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Scotch, salmon and bottled water: Tesco says Commonwealth Games has ... - BeverageDaily.com

Bottled Water - August 01, 2014

stv.tv

Scotch, salmon and bottled water: Tesco says Commonwealth Games has ...
BeverageDaily.com
Tesco says the Commonwealth Games has heightened UK demand for iconic Scottish food and drink such as haggis, shortbread, malt whisky, smoked salmon, bottled water and Tunnocks tea cakes.
The lighter side of Glasgow 2014WA today
Haggis and shortbread sales in Scotland soar over Commonwealthsstv.tv

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Categories: News Feeds

Longtime employee at Park Road Shopping Center eatery has new role: owner - Charlotte Observer

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

Longtime employee at Park Road Shopping Center eatery has new role: owner
Charlotte Observer
Amanda Glenn, new owner of the Carolina Soda Shoppe, takes Bill Pierce's order on Wednesday. Glenn values knowing and interacting with regular customers. Next week, the soda shop will get a sign in the shape of a bottle cap that reads Park Road Soda ...

Categories: News Feeds

Materials set to shape the future of 3D printing - ZDNet

Bioplastic - August 01, 2014

Materials set to shape the future of 3D printing
ZDNet
"You're only ever working with a molten plastic, which means that the plastic, especially PLA — which is a safe bio-plastic — doesn't off-gas and therefore it's a cleaner printing process for office use." From Farr's perspective, however, the range ...

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Categories: Business

Kathy Jackson could face tax bill on union funds sent to her account - The Australian

Bottle Bills - August 01, 2014

Kathy Jackson could face tax bill on union funds sent to her account
The Australian
WHISTLEBLOWER Kathy Jackson faces a potentially huge tax bill after admitting she did not declare thousands of dollars in income that she shifted from her union members' general funds to a personal bank account, and spent on herself over a decade ...

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