Thursday, March 27, 2008

Food and People

Italy’s Trash Crisis Taints Reputation of a Prized Cheese;
In the last few months, sales of buffalo mozzarella have dropped 40 percent, the product’s trade association says. The problem makes for a near-perfect morality play about Italy: For years, the nation’s paralyzed political class has done little to halt huge-scale illegal dumping of trash, some of it toxic, around Naples. That area happens to produce some of the best mozzarella....
“It really is a problem of criminals making a counterfeit product from God-knows-what,” said Mr. Ursini, who expects to open a branch in New York soon. “Mozzarella-wise, we’re in good shape. I just hope the whole thing doesn’t become a panic.”

Much is at stake: In a business that stretches back nearly to antiquity — invading barbarians are believed to have brought the first buffalo from Asia as early as the sixth century — some 30,000 tons of the high-quality protected cheese are produced each year, representing nearly half a billion dollars in sales.

Virus Kills Chile’s Salmon;
But the latest outbreak has occurred after a rash of nonviral illnesses in recent years that the companies acknowledge have led them to use high levels of antibiotics. Researchers say the practice is widespread in the Chilean industry, which is a mix of international and Chilean producers. Some of those antibiotics, they say, are prohibited for use on animals in the United States.

Many of those salmon still end up in American grocery stores, where about 29 percent of Chilean exports are destined. While fish from China have come under special scrutiny in recent months, here in Chile regulators have yet to form a registry that even tracks the use of the drugs, researchers said.

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