Thinly sliced: The Guardian investigates “dirty meat”, cook exposes MasterChef mischief, and more

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Hogwash. A joint investigation by The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed some pretty unappetizing breaches of protocol at slaughterhouses in the United States—think carcasses piling up on a factory floor, a hog head clogging a drain, and dirty chicken being rinsed with chlorine and put back on the production line. Some of the revelations came from documents obtained by Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group that has opposed recent USDA rules that would allow poultry and hog processors to speed up their lines. (We’ve covered the proposed changes for hogs here and chickens here.) The group filed FOIA requests for records of regulatory violations at 10 meat plants over a five-year period. Half of the plants were part of a pilot program to “modernize” (read: speed up) hog processing, and half were comparably sized plants running under current rules. Food and Water Watch found that nearly three quarters of the violations for fecal contamination of carcasses occurred at the plants participating in the pilot, as well as 65 percent of general carcass contamination. Over the five years, there were 22 instances in which employees failed to identify infected carcasses—and every single one of those instances occurred in the “modernized” plants.

No photos please. Chef José Andrés’s response after the James Beard Foundation named him Humanitarian of the Year this week: ¯_(ツ)_/¯ When Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in September of last year, Andrés and his non-profit World Central Kitchen mobilized to cook and serve hot meals en masse in regions that were affected. Over 2 million meals have been provided to date, and World Central Kitchen has also supported relief efforts in Houston and Los Angeles, which were affected by hurricane and fire, respectively, last year. (As we’ve previously reported, natural disasters were devastating to agricultural communities in 2017.) But enough about Andrés. In an interview with the Washington Post, the chef insisted on acknowledging women who have inspired his philanthropy, rather than drawing attention to himself: “I’ve been praised enough.” Enough said.

A little Perd told me. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is touring California, the Los Angeles Times reports, and comments made at an almond processing plant in Coalinga yesterday provided a few glimpses into the Trump administration’s food and ag priorities. Most notably: Perdue acknowledged that growers will need to import more workers as they face a growing labor shortage, but suggested that allowing more people into the country legally will not be politically viable any time soon. He also insisted that the widely-mocked “Harvest Box” proposal was not a “sham,” but a “real idea … we’d like to see seriously considered.”

Dramatic arts. Fancy yourself a conscientious cooking show consumer? If you occasionally delve into the delicious pleasures of reality-TV-meets-kitchen-magician, you might want to lean that way. In a Salon exposé titled “I Am a ‘MasterChef’ Survivor,” amateur cook Jessie Glenn, who inadvertently avoided signing away her right to speak publicly, details her experience of making it to the second round of the notoriously cutthroat reality TV competition—from extensive medical screenings to personal investigations, and her interactions with now deceased Josh Marks, who committed suicide a year after becoming season three’s breakout star. We all know that “what you eat you are,” but what are you based on what you watch other people eat? If it’s meals cooked on the backs of overtaxed amateur chefs, you may have a problem.

The Counter Stories by our editors.