Scott Kilman reports in the Wall Street Journal that the USDA will not allow individual meat packers to test their own meat, because it may imply that the beef missed during random testing by the U.S. government is not safe. Consumer Susan Brownawell says, “This is ridiculous. If people want to have their beef tested, they should be able to. Isn’t this how the free market works?”

“Private companies should be able to test if they want,” says Michael Levine, of Organic Valley. “I think the USDA is just petrified of finding more instances of BSE.” Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wanted to build its own Mad Cow testing laboratory, but the USDA warned them they couldn’t do any testing without government approval. Creekstone usually ships its beef to Japan, which is now rejecting all untested beef.

There is only one U.S. laboratory that can test for Mad Cow?in Ames, Iowa. Last year, USDA scientists send samples there from only one out of every 1,700 cows. Each test takes several weeks, and there are no tests that work on live cattle. Private laboratories say they can do the same tests in only a few hours.

Vegetarians need to worry too: MSG in Chinese food gives some people headaches, so food processors removed it from prepared foods in the 1970s. But now it’s back, except this time it’s being sprayed on food while it’s growing in the field, in the form of the fertilizer AuxiGro.

Food companies will not be required to label the foods sprayed with AuxiGro, and no study has been done to find out if it will cause a reaction in MSG-sensitive people. Animals will also eat crops sprayed with AuxiGro, giving it another opportunity to get into the human food system.

Disasters can come from within?and from without. Learn about the time the sun went crazy and find out if it’s planning to do it again (at a reduced price!)

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