The other hand of the FDA

by on November 26, 2013 at 11:34 am in Food and Drink, Law | Permalink

Via Chaim Katz, here is a Bloomberg headline from 2012: “Asian Seafood Raised on Pig Feces Approved for U.S. Consumers.”  Whether or not you agree with this decision (how good is disclosure?), you get the point.

Will Garvin November 26, 2013 at 11:43 am

Actually, I don’t get your point. Are you suggesting that FDA is too lenient in some cases (like the food issue) but too strict in other cases (like the DNA issue that you link to)? Regardless, I would be interested in hearing more of your point of view on FDA’s various regulations.

Rahul November 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I gather that even frugal American dairy farmers often kept a few pigs handy to do justice to any undigested corn? Maybe this is apocryphal but I don’t think it is.

If pigs can be reared on cow poop why not fish on pig poop?

Mark Thorson November 26, 2013 at 5:42 pm

It’s not apocryphal. I have an agricultural textbook on raising swine which describes doing exactly that, to recover unused food energy in partially digested corn.

Mark Thorson November 26, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Quoting from SWINE PRODUCTION (4th ed.) by Krider and Carroll (McGraw-Hill, 1971), p. 10:

“The outstanding example of the swine enterprise supplementing other enterprises is the contribution swine make to cattle feeding. Hogs are considered essential to profits in fattening beef cattle on heavy corn rations because of their ability to salvage the corn that passes through the cattle undigested. Depending on the age of the cattle and the method of feeding them, hogs following cattle that are getting a full feed of unground corn will recover enough of it to make 0.75 pound to 1.5 pounds of pork for each bushel of corn the cattle consume. This gain is made on corn that would be a complete loss — except for its fertilizing value — were hogs not used in this manner. As a by-product of even a small feeding enterprise, say of 25 head of cattle fed to Good to Prime finish, hogs may therefore produce on salvaged feed alone in the neighborhood of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of pork — a net saving of considerable importance.”

Rahul November 26, 2013 at 11:16 pm


john personna November 26, 2013 at 11:43 am

This reminds me of my brilliant idea! In many parts of the world, pigs are raised on city garbage. We can’t do that because of disease … but what if we fed the pigs to sharks and ate the sharks! Surely that blocks known disease vectors.

RPLong November 26, 2013 at 11:48 am

…And then, of course, we’ll need to release the gorillas to eat the snakes

john personna November 26, 2013 at 11:49 am

On a serious note, it’s all about the food testing. If the seafood is safe (low pathogens, heavy metals, whatever) and healthy (good nutritional content), then fine. There are tests for these things. Note though that farmed fish, while a protein source, doesn’t really help you with “fishy” nutrition (omega-3′s). You might as well, and probably should, eat tofu instead.

bradP November 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm

not if you’re a man–tofu has feminizing effects.
See, e.g., hipster male physiques.

john personna November 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I’ve heard that, and perhaps there is some top-recommended level of tofu for (western?) males. Still, I might want to balance in favor of tofu over poo-fish.

Brian Donohue November 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Don’t soybeans eat poo too?

john personna November 27, 2013 at 10:49 am

For this there is a reasonable caution between root and seed crops, is there not?

Jason November 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Tofu and soy in general is perfectly fine in anything resembling normal amounts. The “feminizing” effects come with extreme soy consumption, like a gallon of soy milk a day for months on end. Eat or drink that much of anything every day for months on end and see if you don’t have problems of one kind or another.

George McCandless November 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Actually, much of the shrimp raised in central america is fed on chicken manure. A big international company imports the grain to feed the chickens, uses the manure of the chickens to feed shrimp produced in pens along the coast. This may be one reason why they suggest cutting out the alimentary canal from shrimp before cooking.

prior_approval November 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hell, we used to feed cows to cows – until the FDA stepped in, and ruined any chance the free market had to make a profit from feeding herbivores to other herbivores.


Especially considering how major export markets demanded such regulation to even be able to compete in their markets – forcing us to the pander to the irrationality of such customers as the Japanese and Korean.

Though if I recall, in the free market fantasy world, it is supposed to the customer that set the tune, since they are paying the piper. Until the customer demands something that the piper doesn’t want to play, apparently. Then, the customer is to blame.

Kyle November 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Why does there need to be any disclosure? Surely the markets will punish the offending companies after a few people get sick, and since a Geneva based food auditor has signed off on the Vietnamese company, there should be reciprocity in the U.S. since first world countries all have acceptable safety standards.

Good idea November 26, 2013 at 1:56 pm

No mandatory disclosure! Let the growers boast of what they do (organic, no hormones, no GMO, no pig feces) as they wish, and the consumer will choose.

Urso November 26, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I mean, ever eaten a crab? Or a catfish? What do you think those guys eat? Better not to think about it really.

Stormy Dragon November 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

All your food has small amounts of feces in it. You think they notice every time a fly defecates into the hamburger grinder at the slaughterhouse? The average American consumes several pounds of excrement in their food over the course of a year.

JWoo November 27, 2013 at 12:48 am

The rules are always different for East Asia. It’s always a one-way street in East Asians’ favor. Years ago Japan made a big scene by banning meat imports because of fears about mad cow disease. Now, Japan has lobbied foreign governments to continue importation of Japan food even from nuclear disaster area Fukushima without any inspections. The rest of the world has entered into a relationship where they are the consumers and East Asia are the cheap producers.

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