Best Opt For The Sweet And Sour

It’s hardly raised a burp in the US, but the British media have developed galloping indigestion over the news that American athletes will not be eating Chinese during the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Brits see it as a snub to China, and the UK press have been quick to expound their preference for a “nice bit o’ sweet an’ sour” over those nasty, flatulence-producing, Big Mac and fries.

Even the British Olympic Association lost no time in pointing out their athletes will be eating in the Olympic restaurant with all the others, not isolated in a private, off-site, mess hall commandeered solely for the mastications of US competitors.

On a personal note, I find this somewhat hard to swallow, and yet another example of the stomach-churning arrogance that pervades much of this nation, vomiting forth the much-mistaken notion that everything ex-USA is somehow inferior.

Since coming to these shores I have given up eating pre-packed fresh salad following cases of Salmonella poisoning; I’m about to give up canned green beans after the FDA, three days ago, reported:

“…… that New Era Canning Company, New Era, Mich., is expanding its product recall because of potential Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) contamination to all canned green beans and garbanzo beans distributed by the company nationwide over the last five years.” [my bold]

Thankfully, I don’t eat beef so the recent recall of – wait for it – 143 million pounds (weight) of American beef products doesn’t affect me. These meat products have been manufactured over the last twenty-four months, so its likely many have already been consumed.

This recall effected one massive meat processing plant, the San Bernardino County slaughterhouse in San Diego. According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune:[1]

” The recall last week of 143 million pounds of beef from a San Bernardino County slaughterhouse – the largest such order in the nation’s history – has raised new questions about the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s meat-inspection system.

Food-safety advocates say the federal agency is struggling with an inspector shortage and inadequate oversight that leave consumers vulnerable to salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria….”

It’s a pity the San Diego Union-Tribune’s circulation doesn’t quite reach to China. I’m sure the Chinese would have a good giggle over that one.

The report goes on:

“Donna Rosenbaum of Safe Tables Our Priority, an Illinois nonprofit that works to prevent food-borne illnesses, said the danger posed to consumers by the beef recalled last week has largely passed because most of it has been consumed or disposed of. The recall order covered an estimated 37 million pounds of beef that went to schools through USDA nutrition programs. It extended back to Feb. 1, 2006.

Rosenbaum said what concerns her the most about Westland/Hallmark Meat Co.’s beef recall is it may indicate a systemic problem.

“We were under (the) impression that plants approved (for sales to schools) have the most scrutiny and most attention to detail,” she said.

Infections from tainted beef can be fatal.

Robert Metz of Del Cerro joined Safe Tables Our Priority after he lost his mother in 1994 when she ate E. coli-contaminated hamburger bought from a local supermarket. She died 17 days later.

Since then, Metz said, he rarely eats red meat and meticulously washes all fruits and vegetables. He began advocating for food safety and lobbies elected officials to pass stronger legislation.

“There are so many recalls, it’s unbelievable,” Metz said. “Meatpacking plant procedures are very, very poor and inadequate.” [my bold]

Stories like these make a mockery of America’s high-handed arrogance over Chinese food, particularly as the Chinese are going to great lengths to ensure their Olympic cuisine will be of the highest quality.

Frankly, I’d rather trust my intestines to some decent Chinese nosh, than the limited variety of fast-food available in the US Heartlands. Having noted a disgusting lack of cleanliness and hygiene in most of the fast-food outlets in this area, I’m nostalgic for the pristine Chinese restaurants and takeaways that abound throughout Europe.

[1] “Meat safety at stake?” – San Diego Union-Tribune, February 24th, 2008.

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