Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't Even Bother to Ask.....

A couple of days ago, I called the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to inquire if they had received any recent "goose meat donations" from New York City.
I spoke with their Communications Director, Brad Peterson.  It was not a pleasant conversation, however it did yield some information.
The food bank has indeed received recent goose meat donations.  In an email, Mr. Peterson cites the following:
"These are the dates we have received goose meat from the processor



We have received our entire anticipated amount of the deliveries."

While the dates coincide with geese rounded up in New York City and supposedly sent to Pennsylvania for "processing and distribution" to the Central Pennsylvania food bank, Mr. Peterson could not verify for me the source(s) of the donated "goose meat."

"It could be from Pennsylvania or New York City," he replied flatly. "The source of the meat is not indicated."

"Well, sir, I can tell you that we in New York City are not happy the geese are being rounded up from our public parks and sent to another state for slaughter and so-called, distribution to food banks.   Do you realize how many hours the geese are crammed 3 to 4 to small turkey crates in the heat while the USDA conducts roundups?  How many hours is it then to drive to Pennsylvania?  Is that not to be complicit in animal cruelty?"

"I don't agree that it is animal cruelty," Peterson answered coldly.

"Well, I believe it is, Mr. Peterson.  We have photos of geese being crammed in the trucks and eyewitness testimonies. Testimonies that describe the geese as either 'half or quite dead.'   Who is doing the toxicity testing on these birds presuming they are even alive when arriving to the Pennsylvania slaughterhouse?"

"It is up to the USDA to do testing," Peterson answered.

"But, the USDA told me they are only involved with the geese up to the point of dropping them off at the processing plant.  They didn't say anything about 'testing' the birds.  I understand it costs up to $100.00 to properly test the geese for toxins.  Who is paying for that and who is doing the tests?   For that money, you could feed the people caviar!"

"Again, I don't know the source of the goose meat." 

"Well, what is the name of the processing plant?  Do you have a number for them?"

"I can't give you the name or the number of the processing plant.  I can only tell you it is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania."

"Mr. Peterson, I am sympathetic to people suffering during a dreadful economy. But, I will never donate to another food bank, knowing what I do now. The relief of suffering to some should not result in the unjustified suffering to others.  The geese in our public parks belong to the people here, not some slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania!"

"I understand your feelings," Peterson replied as a good Communications Director should. He then added, "I will email you information on our recent goose meat deliveries as soon as I look them up."

That basically ended the conversation, though for me, it was a frustrating one.

If Brad Peterson is representative of those running food banks (and presumably he is) then there is virtually no sympathy at all for the geese being systematically and cruelly rounded up in pubic parks and urban areas all around the country and either gassed or slaughtered. 

Moreover, Peterson, did not even seem that concerned over possible toxins in the goose meat and whose responsibility it was to test for them.

Since the conversation, I have considered trying to track down the goose "processing plant" in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but even if getting someone on the phone, I am not sure they could provide much more information than Peterson did.

If operating like a typical slaughterhouse, they probably get geese and other birds from many sources and locations.  After slaughtering, the animals are all mixed together.   If made into "burgers" the typical burger contains the remains of many animals, not just one animal from one source.

This explains why trying to track down the source of the current salmonella outbreak around the country can be difficult.  Although ground turkey meat is suspected for the salmonella, how do they track down the actual source of the many turkeys in ground meat?:

It would be like me trying to track down and find out what really happened with the hundreds of geese and goslings rounded up from New York City parks over the past six weeks:

Did most simply die in the USDA trucks?

Did some actually make it to the processing plant alive?

Were they slaughtered and toxicity tested?

Were goslings and sick birds dumped in a landfill?

Or, were they all slaughtered, mixed with a lot of other slaughtered geese from Pennsylvania and distributed to the food bank?

I am not sure if anyone knows the answers to these questions.

Even more alarmingly, if anyone even cares enough to ask.   -- PCA



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