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Misc. News : Non-f.ood Things Last Updated: Dec 2nd, 2006 - 15:22:29

NY cracks down on illegal mystery meats
By Food Safety Network
Dec 2, 2006, 15:19

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Herald News Daily: Voice of the Dakotas
Adam Goldman, Associated Press

NEW YORK - When a food safety inspector walked into a market in Queens, he noticed, according to this story, the store had an interesting special posted on its front window: 12 beefy armadillos. In Brooklyn, inspectors found 15 pounds of iguana meat at a West Indian market and 200 pounds of cow lungs for sale at another market. At a West African grocery in Manhattan, the store was selling smoked rodent meat from a refrigerated display case. An inspector quickly seized a couple pounds of it.

Authorities were cited as saying the discoveries are part of a larger trend in which markets across New York are buying meat and other foods from unregulated sources and selling them to an immigrant population accustomed to more exotic fare.

The seizures also cast a spotlight on the eating habits of this ethnically diverse city, where everything from turtles and fish paste to frogs and duck feet make their way onto people's plates.

The story says that in the first nine months of the year, inspectors across the state seized 1.6 million pounds of food, destroying about 81 percent of it. Last year, the state seized only 976,076 pounds of food.

Such food can spread nasty bacteria like salmonella or botulism.

Bush meat, or anything killed in the wild, is typically illegal. Eating endangered or threatened species like as gorilla and chimpanzee — whose meat is occasionally found in New York — is against the law.

State sanitary inspection reports dating back to 2001 reveal a widespread appetite for this potentially dangerous food.
Down the street at Dahing Seafood Market, inspectors have found frogs being sold from an unapproved source. And next door, authorities spotted crates of turtles and a large tub of bullfrogs being sold without proper invoices.

Inside Kam Lun Food Products in Queens, inspectors discovered questionable turtles and frogs and a clue: "Label on animal boxes states China Air Cargo," the inspector wrote in his report.

Dr. Philip Tierno, author of "The Secret Life of Germs: Observations and Lessons from a Microbe Hunter," and director of clinical microbiology at New York University Medical Center, was quoted as saying, "That's a no-no because there is absolutely no monitoring of the standards in these places. It's subject to the vagaries of whoever is processing the food. Who's watching?"

Sung Soo Kim, president of Korean American Small Business Service Center of New York, was cited as saying it's hard to change eating habits that are centuries-old.

Kim runs a state-approved food safety education program and has delivered seminars to the Korean community about food laws.

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