Archive for October 1st, 2008

Hot Topic: Food Safety

October 1st, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Boston Globe

China’s tainted milk scandal continues to spread beyond its borders.

Yesterday Cadbury, the UK candy maker recalled 11 kinds of chocolates produced in its Beijing plant because they contained melamine, the same toxin that sickened 53,000 Chinese infants and children.

Candies from the Beijing plant are normally distributed to Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and several Pacific island nations. A spokesperson for the company indicated that Cadbury products being sold in the US are not affected and will not be recalled.

US candy makers Hershey and Mars stated their candy is safe. For its part, H. J. Heinz Co. said yesterday it would no longer use Chinese milk in products it distributes to Hong Kong and the mainland.

Meanwhile this week in the US, the country-of-origin law (aka COOL) goes live. The law should help trace food distribution systems during outbreaks of tainted food such as the ones traced to California-grown spinach, salmonella-tainted Mexican peppers and now, Chinese milk.

Many hail COOL as progress, but it contains dozens of maddening loopholes. Fresh strawberries must carry a COOL label for example, but there is no such requirement for chocolate-covered strawberries. Raw peanuts need a label, but not roasted peanuts. Go figure.

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Defense Contracting: Who’s in Charge?

October 1st, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon just postponed until after the elections a $40 billion competition to determine which company will supply aerial refueling tankers to the US Air Force.

The Air Force has tried for 7 years replace its tankers which average nearly 50 years old.

The Pentagon’s decision represents victory for Boeing Co. Boeing has held the tanker contract for decades, but it apparently lost the contract earlier this year to a JV involving European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS, makers of the Airbus) and Northrop Grumman Corp.

At the time, Boeing wouldn’t go quietly. It protested to the GAO that the selection process was flawed. It called in favors from politicians who decried the decision to award the contract to a team including, gasp! A foreign country! And before you can say “fasten your seatbelt,” the contract was voided.

Then, Boeing grew concerned that its bid on the revised contract also wouldn’t pass muster, so it threatened to pull its bid altogether unless it was given more time to prepare. If Boeing doesn’t bid, the Pentagon is left with only one bidder. This is unacceptable, especially in an election year, so the Pentagon punted the competition all the way to next summer.

Ironically, Top Gun McCain could be president then. McCain, it happens, is a longtime critic of Boeing. His office helped open the competition to EADS/Northrop in the first place.

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DC’s Cigarette Campaign

October 1st, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Washington Post

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZvHiiWFbBU&feature=related

That was then. Can today’s anti-smoking campaigns put forward ad strategies that are anywhere near as effective as the diabolically clever ones promulgated by cigarette companies back in the day?

This Is Now

This Is Now

The American Lung Association (ALA) believes it’s possible. The trick is to design a delivery vehicle for the anti-smoking message that is maximally effective given the attitudes and cultural preferences of the target group.

This explains why the ALA released 2 ad campaigns in the Washington, D.C. area this week: the first, in English, targets African Americans. The second, in Spanish, targets Latinos. “These are the populations that have the highest rates of smoking, and of tobacco-related…heart disease, stroke and cancer,” said ALA director Debra Annand.

The English version features former all-pro NFL Cornerback Darrel Green, dressed nattily and intoning calmly that cigarettes contain “250 poisons.” Green adds that folks who call 1-800-QUITNOW are demonstrating “wisdom and strength.”

The Spanish campaign features a sinister image of the devil or perhaps death itself. A blunt message is juxtaposed: “You sold him your soul in exchange for ammonia, urea…arsenic, lead. Quick making excuses. Quit smoking.”

Funding for both campaigns comes from the District’s piece of the 1998 settlement between the government and tobacco companies.

The ads have generated a four-fold increase in calls to the hot line this week. The ALA plans to release a campaign targeting youth smokers next month.

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