Thinly sliced: New York City bans “charcoal” food, AP investigates another fish fraud, and more

iStock / a_namenko

iStock / a_namenko

This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.

Fishy business. In a revealing investigation on the business practices of Sea to Table, a private company that claims to provide chefs, restaurant chains, and several brand-name clients guaranteed “wild only” seafood “directly traceable” to a U.S. dock, Associated Press reporters have discovered that the company’s claims are false. Findings include Sea to Table’s practice of sourcing from foreign fishermen who work in abysmal labor conditions, and DNA results of fish obtained by clients that directly contradict the company’s promise of providing “local” seafood. The implications of the investigation are far-reaching in an industry where, as we’ve reported, fraud is not uncommon.

Solidarity trumps division. In a political and cultural climate where hostility toward immigrants simmers at a consistent low boil, André Gallant, writing for the Southern Foodways Alliance, explores how Mexican and Central American restaurant workers are balancing hospitality with activism in Athens, Georgia. The reconciliation is, unsurprisingly, tremendously difficult: Restaurant workers either risk alienating some customers or staying silent on an issue that threatens their livelihoods and families.

We all scream for … charcoal? Activated charcoal, the ingredient behind that mesmerizing social media superstar, the black ice cream cone, has been banned from all food and drink in New York City by the Department of Health (DOH). The agency has issued several “commissioners orders,” asking restaurants to stop using activated charcoal in their products since March of 2016. But restaurant owners aren’t having that, Eater NY reports. Some have had to dump as much as $3,000 worth of activated charcoal during routine inspections. Guess we’ll just go back to posting pictures of our avocado toast now.

Swine secrets. What’s more troubling than overmedicated livestock? The fact that data on antibiotic use in animal agriculture is notoriously difficult to access—specifically in the United States, Wired reveals. While countries like the Netherlands publicly release reports on how farm antibiotic use correlates to drug-resistant infections in humans, the equivalent statistics are both paltry and privately controlled in the U.S. If this country wants to prioritize public health, it’ll have to find a cure for that (preferably not a pharmaceutical one).

Does this meat taste a little too meaty to you? Attendees of Houston’s Vegandale Food and Drink Festival were enraged when they learned that one of the food truck vendors had served real meat to some patrons. In a Facebook post (on a page that has since been deleted), Mi Patio Cafe & Grill attributed the error to wanting to “take a chance and participate in something new.” Owner Maria Barrera claims that Vegandale personnel did not explain ahead of time what could and couldn’t be sold, writes The Houston Chronicle. Who can blame her? What could she possibly think people would want to eat at a festival called “Vegandale?”

Labor day. Next week, the House will take up a vote on the Agricultural Guestworker Act, sponsored by Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Capital Press reports. The bill would replace the current H-2A visa system—which grants seasonal work to temporary foreign agricultural laborers—with a contentious new H-2C visa system. Read our primers on the bill here and here.

The Counter Stories by our editors.