Jack Lobb, born 1912 Reply

Jack Lobb as photographer in WWII

Friday, February 24, 2012, is the centenary of the birth of my father, James Herbert “Jack” Lobb, in Dublin, Ireland. He came to this country with his family at the age of twelve.  His father, Frederick, found work with a wealthy family in Ridgewood, New Jersey, so he had the advantage of attending prep-school-quality public schools. He signed up for the Navy on December 8, 1941, and served as a photographer on the USS YORKTOWN, taking leave from training to marry my mother, the former Margaret O’Shea, on September 12, 1942. More…

Is bread the sodium bad guy? Reply

So, if you are worried about your blood pressure, you should stop eating bread because it is so high in sodium, right?  That’s the impression you get from the latest publicity blast from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about sources of sodium in the American diet.

CDC fingered bread and rolls as the biggest single source of sodium, saying they contribute 7.4 percent of the nation’s sodium intake.  That’s funny — I like bread, especially the crusty kind, and I’ve never tasted a piece that I thought was salty. Do bakers really put a lot of salt in bread?

Well, no. The average slice of white bread has 137 milligrams of sodium; whole wheat, 134.  Since the average daily allowance for sodium under government guidelines is 2,300 milligrams, that doesn’t seem like a lot. More…

Industry groups back federal plan to address foodborne illness Reply

By Richard Lobb on 2/1/2012

from www.meatingplace.com (reprinted by permission)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s meatpackers are backing a plan by the federal government to get a better handle on which specific foods cause illnesses and death among consumers, saying the improved data can help fill gaps in the food safety system.

“The only way we can better understand what makes people sick is through this data,” Betsy Booren, director of scientific affairs for the American Meat Institute, said at a public meeting at USDA headquarters here. “By having timely, credible food attribution data, the food industry can accurately identify and improve any food safety gaps that may exist.”

More…

“I Miss You, Jessica” Reply

The State Farm insurance company is spending millions of dollars on TV dramatizing the difference between State Farm and a certain unnamed insurance company that makes you call a toll-free number to report an accident.  The guy in the ad with his car up a phone call calls his (former) agent, Jessica,  and says that while it took only 15 minutes to switch insurance companies, it take a lot longer to get some help.

State Farm insurance logo As a State Farm customer for many years, I’ve appreciated the fact that I really could call my local agent and get help pronto.  We had a little accident a few years ago and called the agent’s office at ten minutes to five.  Presto, all was taken care of.

Well, guess what.

More…

Will the GOP have a Goldwater/McGovern moment? Reply

Every so often, one of the major political parties goes off the deep end and nominates someone for president who has absolutely no chance of winning. The Republicans did it with Barry Goldwater in 1964 and the Democrats with George McGovern in 1972. The Republican faithful now seem inclined to do it again with Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich has leaped ahead of Mitt Romney in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, with 37 percent of likely GOP primary voters backing the ex-House speaker and Washington power broker, against only 28 percent supporting the ex-Massachusetts governor and hedge fund multimillionaire.

More…

My Busy Month in Magazines Reply

Cover of January 2012 issue WATT PoultryUSA

I wrote the cover story in the January issue of WATT PoultryUSA

January is a busy month for me in trade magazines.  First out of the box was WATT PoultryUSA with my report on the Chicken Marketing Seminar in California.  I attended that event as an NCC staff person and of course had no inkling that I would be called upon to write a story about it.  It focuses on the growing role of social media in chicken marketing. You can see it at the WATT PoultryUSA web site: “Chicken suppliers and sellers confront new technology, social issues.”

More…

Big changes coming for poultry inspection Reply

Picture of a chicken carcass

A typical chicken carcass

After years of hesitation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving ahead with a plan to take inspectors off the evisceration line at chicken and turkey slaughter plants.  Since the 1950’s, inspectors have stood at fixed stations on the line and checked every chicken carcass that came along. (About one every two seconds, usually.) They were supposed to touch the carcass in a certain way to check for evidence of bird disease, look for bile or fecal contamination, and otherwise make sure it was wholesome.

Trouble is, most poultry diseases have been practically eliminated.  The concern in recent years hasn’t been for poultry diseases, but for microbial contamination such as Salmonella.  And you can’t see or feel Salmonella cells no matter how hard you try.

More…

“War Horse:” A Love Story Reply

When Stephen Spielberg directed “War Horse,” he set out to make an epic in the mold of  “Dr. Zhivago” or “Gone with the Wind.” Like those films,”War Horse” is a war movie that is a celebration of the power of loyalty and commitment.

Albert rides Joey, the "War Horse"
Albert rides Joey, the “War Horse”

But mostly it is a love story of the old-fashioned kind: boy meets horse, boy loses horse, boy and horse find each other and ride into the sunset. The story is simple and sentimental, as you might expect from a film based on a children’s novel. “War Horse,” the book, was written by Michael Morpurgo and published in England in 1982. It was also the source of a successful play staged in London and New York.

More…

USDA to roll out “modernized” poultry inspection system Reply

By Richard Lobb on 1/20/2012

from www.meatingplace.com — reprinted by permission

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will all but abandon the food inspection system under which federal inspectors examine chicken and turkey carcasses on the slaughter line by sight, touch and smell and move to a modernized system stressing offline quality assurance.

“The modernization plan will protect public health, improve the efficiency of poultry inspections in the U.S., and reduce spending,” Vilsack said in a conference call with media. “The new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing Food Safety and Inspection Service inspection activities on those tasks that advance our core mission of food safety.”

Employees of the companies that operate young chicken and young turkey slaughter plants will be responsible for sorting out carcasses that exhibit defects such as bruises or broken bones, Vilsack said. A USDA inspector will be stationed at the end of the evisceration line, just before carcasses enter the chiller, to provide a final visual inspection and satisfy the legal requirement for carcass-by-carcass inspection. Other USDA personnel will work off the line conducting checks of the plant’s pathogen reduction program. More…

Dudley Butler resigns as head of USDA’s GIPSA Reply

By Richard Lobb on 1/19/2012

from www.meatingplace.com — reprinted by permission

J. Dudley Butler has resigned as administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, effective next week, USDA confirmed today. His resignation brings to an end a controversial tenure marked by an attempt to toughen regulations on livestock and poultry marketing.

Outgoing GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler

J. Dudley Butlter resigns as GIPSA chief

“I want to thank J. Dudley Butler for his outstanding service as Administrator,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “President Obama and I believe fair and competitive markets are critical to the success of American agriculture, and Dudley has worked tirelessly to advance this cause. USDA looks forward to continuing this work on behalf of our nation’s producers.”

More…

Obama asks for authority to consolidate agencies; concerns raised on foreign trade Reply

By Richard L. Lobb

January 13, 2012 from www.meatingplace.com — reprinted by permission

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced today he would ask Congress for the authority to consolidate several federal agencies dealing with trade and business development, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), which negotiates agreements covering exports of beef, pork and poultry among many other products.   Concerns were immediately raised that the consolidation could hamstring efforts to promote U.S. trade.

Also affected by the consolidation would be the Commerce Department’s business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency.

“We’d have one department where entrepreneurs can go from the day they come up with an idea and need a patent, to the day they start building a product and need financing for a warehouse, to the day they’re ready to export and need help breaking into new markets overseas,” Obama said.

More…

The “Anonymous” Shakespeare: Revenge of the Ghost Reply

Note: contains spoilers (sorry!)

Was William Shakespeare the author a role played by William Shakespeare the actor? The question is posed by “Anonymous,” an earnest and occasionally entertaining historical drama directed by Roland Emmerich. The film’s answer, that the plays, poems and sonnets of Shakespeare were in fact the creation of Edward DeVere, Earl of Oxford, is a popular but utterly improbable theory embraced by those who cannot believe that a man of only modest education, and little social standing, could have created one of the pillars of the English language. “Anonymous” will persuade many conspiracy theorists but few who understand that genius does not require membership in the upper class.

Engraving of William Shakespeare

Was this man an illiterate fraudster?

The William Shakespeare depicted in the film is an actor who can read but cannot actually write — not just in the literary sense but literally: he cannot form letters on paper.  But he is money-hungry and keeps an eye out for the main chance, and he sees it when DeVere begins to stage his plays through Ben Jonson, also a notable literary figure in 16th century London.  Jonson is reluctant to lend his name, so the plays are produced without a designated author; when the enthusiastic audience cries, “Author!  Author!” Shakespeare steps forth, much to Jonson’s chagrin. Thus begins a spectacular run of successful plays which Jonson and Shakespeare obtain from DeVere, who has spent his life writing plays which he feels it would be too déclassé to produce. More…