Word of the day

August 4, 2013

Rectilinearly – moving in, forming, consisting of, bounded or characterised by a straight line or lines; following a rectilinear path.


Rural round up

August 4, 2013

Food, drink and stock feed in whey crisis – Stephen Bell,

No Fonterra-branded consumer products are affected by contaminated whey, the firm said this morning.

It referred to the crisis following revelations it had produced 38 tonnes of whey concentrate contaminated with the potentially deadly Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, as “the quality issue”.

The farmer co-operative’s statement said it had assured consumers in global markets including Australia, Asia, China, Latin America, New Zealand and the Middle East that none of its range of branded consumer products contained the affected whey protein concentrate (WPC80).

In addition to branded consumer products, Fonterra markets a range of commercial ingredients under its NZMP label. These ingredients are sold to other food companies that use them to manufacture their own consumer products. . .

Fonterra botulism scare caused by dirty pipe –  Amelia Wade , Matthew Theunissen:

The potential contamination of Fonterra products with botulism occurred as a result of a dirty pipe at the company’s Hautapu plant, it says.

Fonterra is still refusing to disclose which of its eight customers were potentially affected by the contamination, saying it was up to them and their regulatory authorities to make those decisions.

Managing director of New Zealand milk products Gary Romano said the contamination occurred as a result of a dirty pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in Waikato. . .

Russia bans all Fonterra products  – Christopher Adams:

Russia has made one of the most extreme responses to Fonterra’s contamination scare so far, banning all goods made by the New Zealand dairy giant, according to media reports.

Russia was not on the list of affected countries released by Trade Minister Tim Grocer yesterday, which included New Zealand, Australia, China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the country’s consumer-protection watchdog was recalling Fonterra’s products, including infant formula, and advising consumers in Russia not to buy its products. . .

 

Asparagus bred to beat fungus – Tony Benny:

Canterbury plant breeder Peter Falloon has developed the world’s first asparagus cultivar to have resistance to phytophthora, a fungus that eats the plants’ roots and can devastate crops.

“It is exciting and the nice thing is it’s done in New Zealand, so the growers here can take advantage of it,” he said.

“One of the main drivers in food crops is reduced chemical application and this is a major aim of the asparagus industry in New Zealand. So this gives it a jump on the rest of the world.

“We can back some of our clean, green claims with the fact that this is one more chemical that we’re not using.” . . .

New HortNZ head well know to industry – Peter Watson:

Life just got even busier for Nelson fruit and berry grower Julian Raine with his election as president of Horticulture New Zealand.

Raine, who already has roles in other industry organisations, took over this week from Andrew Fenton who has been president since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

Fenton said Raine was well respected in the industry and the ideal person to steer the national organisation through the next stage of its journey to becoming a $10 billion industry by 2020.

Raine, who was elected to the HortNZ board in 2011, said he accepted the nomination for president because he wanted to make a difference. . .

Organic carrots no hippy operation – Tony Cronshaw:

Rows of carrots spaced with a precision that could not be done by the human eye give the first clue that the Hicks family runs a modern arable operation.

There are no sandals or hippy beads at Willowmere Organic Farm in Hororata.

On the contrary, cultivated rows of carrots and other crops are prepared and planted at the large operation owned by the Hicks family of Kelvin and his parents, John and Trish, with satellite- aligned GPS equipment.

Kelvin says they make the most of advanced technology to push organic production. . .

Meads goes from breeding to beefing up events – Hugh Stringleman:

Performance Beef Breeders (PBB) chief executive Murray Meads has stepped down after 16 years to concentrate on events management and a new restaurant for the centre of Feilding.

Since 1997 Meads has grown the PBB bureau from four full-time staff members to 16, for the needs of 13 beef cattle breed societies and ancillary services and events.

His future role is events and project manager for Hot Wire Events, a new subsidiary of PBB. . .

This beautiful “189 Miles” wool installation by Angela Wright, featured in the Wool Modern Exhibition in Syndey in 2012 and wallspace at All Hallows church, London:

This beautiful wool installation by Angela Wright, featured in the Wool Modern Exhibition in Syndey in 2012. Click on the link to see the original exhibition and the creation process behind it  http://bit.ly/16NprGw
An illustrated explanation of how it was made is here. (Hat tip: Campaign for Wool)

21st centruy women should know better

August 4, 2013

What is it with women and the pursuit of “beauty” at the risk of their health?

You could be forgiven for thinking corsets belong in the Victorian era, the 1950s, or burlesque clubs. But a growing number of women are wearing them all day, every day, in a bid to reduce their waist size.

It’s a trend that has got health professionals worried.

Ivy D’Auton is a corset-maker in Auckland. Recently she’s noticed a small number of her Kiwi clients have started wearing them constantly – a practise called ‘waist training’.

“It’s the idea that you can modify your body through wearing corsets – so your waist gradually becomes smaller and smaller,” she says. . .

But doctors say the practise is very dangerous.

“What worries me most is pushing this to a place which isn’t right,” says Dr John Cameron. “It’s like toothpaste. If you squeeze a tube of toothpaste it’s going to come out both ends. Basically you’re trying to push her stomach up into your thorax and the rest goes down south – so you’re trying to change the anatomy.”

That can lead to digestive, breathing, muscular and skeletal problems over time. . .

Women of my mother’s generation squeezed themselves into panty girdles and other misogynist garments which squashed their innards and ruined their abdominal muscles.

Fortunately their daughters knew better but what’s happening to the next generation?

We’re now 13 years into the 21st century.

Girls have been told for decades that they can do anything and they don’t have to conform to stereotypical dictates over how they should look.

Yet still some women are putting their health at risk in the pursuit of an idealised, unnatural and unrealistic idea of beauty.


Before Dawn

August 4, 2013

Open large picture

Story People by Brian Andreas.

If you’d like to start your day with a dose of whimsy you’ll find how to sign up to a daily email by clicking on the link.

 


7/10

August 4, 2013

7/10 in the Herald’s politics quiz.


A tax the NZ left hasn’t thought of – yet

August 4, 2013

The LabourGreen answer to almost any economic question is more tax.

However, there is one thing they haven’t thought of taxing – yet – and that’s sunlight.

But it might occur to them because it’s being done in Spain:

The state threatens fines as much as 30 million euros for those who illegally gather sunlight without paying a tax.

The tax is just enough to make sure that homeowners cannot gather and store solar energy cheaper than state-sponsored providers. . .

If you get caught collecting photons of sunlight for your own use, you can be fined as much as 30 million euros.

If you were thinking the best energy option was to buy some solar panels that were down 80% in price, you can forget about it.

“Of all the possible scenarios, this is the worst,” said José Donoso, president of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF), which represents 85% of the sector’s activity.

Before the decree it took 12 years to recover the investment in a residential installation of 2.4 kilowatts of power. Following the decree, it will take an additional 23 years according to estimates by UNEF. . .

Huge solar generation panels lined paddocks near Vejer de la Frontera in south west Spain.

It seemed like a very good use of a natural resource when the sun shone all day, every day for the three months we lived there.

We were told there were EU incentives for generation from renewable sources.

It seems ludicrous to take an incentive with one hand and impose a tax disincentive with the other.

But let’s not tell LabourGreen, they might think it’s a good idea.


Why did it take so long?

August 4, 2013

The Ministry of Primary Industries is advising people to avoid Nutricia Karicare follow on formula products from 6 months.

The Ministry for Primary Industries today announced the details of one product in New Zealand potentially containing contaminated whey protein from Fonterra’s Hautapu manufacturing facility.

“Since we were informed by Fonterra yesterday afternoon that three batches of concentrated whey protein contain Clostridium botulinum, MPI has been working intensively to identify what, if any, products on the New Zealand market may be contaminated,” Acting Director General Scott Gallacher said.

“The batches of whey product have been on sold and mixed with other ingredients to form 870 tonnes of consumer products sold in a variety of markets. I am now publishing a statement under the Animal Products Act 1999 and Food Act 1981 identifying the following products in New Zealand:

  • Nutricia Karicare follow-on formula products for children from 6 months old.

“MPI has been advised that in the case of the Nutricia Karicare, five batches of follow-on formula were manufactured using the contaminated whey protein,” Mr Gallacher said.

“Nutricia has advised that three of those batches are in a warehouse in Auckland, one is on a ship, and the other is in storage in Australia. Nutricia has advised it has locked down those batches, and they will not be sold on the market.

“MPI is still in the process of verifying this information, and today sent a team to Nutricia’s Auckland warehouses” Mr Gallacher said.

“Until this process is completed, I advise parents and caregivers with infants consuming Nutricia Karicare follow on formula products from 6 months, to use infant formula for children aged 0-6 months, ready-made formulas or alternative brands.”

Mr Gallacher said the government had last night advised regulatory authorities in markets where affected product had gone.

“MPI and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are continuing to work with overseas regulators to provide information as it becomes available. Clearly, a number of markets are very concerned about this situation.”

MPI Acting Director General, Scott Gallacher, says he’s been informed that no batches of formula which may contain the contaminated whey are in New Zealand retail stores. MPI is still verifying where the batches are and he is taking a cautionary approach.

That is sensible.

The government is being similarly cautious.

Trade Minister Tim Groser has today confirmed New Zealand is working closely with our trading partners to keep them informed of the potential contamination of some products, including follow-on infant formula, made from whey protein concentrate contaminated with the bacteria that causes botulism.

 “As soon as New Zealand authorities were notified of this risk, we immediately acted to inform relevant authorities around the world,” says Mr Groser.

 “This has included formally notifying Infosan, the World Health Organisation’s international food safety regulators network. As more information on this issue is confirmed we will provide our trading partners with further updates.

 “We understand that the markets to which contaminated whey protein concentrate, or products using this ingredient, has been exported are Australia, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Viet Nam.

 “New Zealand authorities are working with Fonterra to identify and trace all potentially affected products and then inform regulators around the world,” says Mr Groser.

Fonterra says none of its branded products are affected.

That will be reassuring to people who use these products but of no comfort to companies which use ingredients which might have been contaminated, or to the people who consume products using these ingredients.

. . . The whey protein is used to make a range of products, including infant formula and sports drinks.

A dirty pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant has been blamed for the contamination.

The dirty pipe suggests a failure of process which has now been addressed.

But I’m still left with a question – why did it take so long to act on the risk?

Fonterra’s first media release and an email to shareholders said,  the affected batches were produced in May last year and the potential issue was identified in March this year,.

Shouldn’t there have been some action before now?

Even though there are hundreds of different strains of Clostridium, the majority of which are harmless, wouldn’t recalling such a small amount of product as a precaution have been better than waiting until the contamination was confirmed?


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