Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Fire-resistant butter?

When some samples of butter tested as part of a major study on food contamination prove to contain over 900 times normal concentrations of deca-brominated diphenyl ether (deca-BDE) — a flame retardant generally used for electronics, textiles, wire and cable insulation and automotive and aircraft components — it is time to ask two questions: How did the chemical get there? And why aren’t our regulatory agencies aware of and doing something about it?

Salted butter

This butter contains salt. Whether it also contains
deca-BDE we do not know.
[ Image Source ]

As many other observers have commented, this is a sure indication that more regulation, not less, is needed to protect American consumers from being poisoned by a feckless commercial food industry. This has been apparent since at least the early years of the 20th century, when manufacturers found it expeditious to replace natural flavors and colors with coal-tar derivatives and comparably toxic adulterants; while until World War II, big agriculture kept our produce free of pests by spraying it with lead arsenate — in several cases, so much of it as to cause acute illness in consumers who ate the fruit. (Notably, although its use declined with the advent of DDT, LA was not banned until 1980, and Consumer Reports advises that dangerous levels of arsenic from orchard topsoil are still present in apple and grape juices.) This is is why regulatory agencies were created in the first place.

But the GOP’s frittling brigade has been depressingly successful in indoctrinating Americans to believe that they are overtaxed and overregulated, engineering an ersatz backlash that has netted them numerous foot-soldiers among the uninformed, and the political cover they need to perpetuate such callous practices.


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