by Anne Muller
Wildlife Watch held a demonstration at the NY State
Dept of Health (DOH) to reveal to the public some important facts
about the bizarre approval of the goose flesh for the elderly poor.
As a backdrop, the Dept of Health did no independent testing of
the flesh. They relied on reports from two labs: the NYS Agriculture
and Markets, and the IL Dept. of Agriculture.
Strangely, the NYS Agriculture & Markets found
no lead at all (?!), but IL found that the average was .36 ppm
(parts per million)! The DOH commented on the disparity but then
ignored it! They obviously chose to go with the NYS Agriculture & Markets
Substantially the same lead content that was found
a year ago was found again this year (.368 and .36); The DOH disallowed
it for human consumption last year but allowed it this year. The
only difference between the two years was a closed meeting between
the DEC and the health department this year, leading (no pun intended)
us to conclude that the approval of food is now negotiable.
If you call the Dept. of Health in NY and speak to
a lead spokesperson, you will hear that the optimum lead intake
level should be zero or as close to zero as possible. The lead
levels for chicken and other meats found in supermarkets are between
.01 and .09. Occasionally it will go as high as .15 for some canned
foods. (The only standard for lead is set by the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) and it's .25 for canned foods. The Canada
goose flesh is higher than that permissible for canned foods. If
it were canned it would be unacceptable, but it wasn't and so it
was approved!) Some Canada goose flesh tested as high as
1.0 - and Ward Stone, the DEC pathologist said some samples were
as high as 5.0, although no lab reports were released to us showing
The fact that each sample showed a different amount
of lead indicates that they are playing Russian roulette with seniors.
One person can get a high amount and another lower amount. The
theory behind grinding up the goose flesh into burgers was to avoid
having to test each breast separately. They claimed that toxins
would be spread homogeneously throughout the sample. Yet each sample
yielded different amounts of lead with the average at .36!
The Health Dept. said that lead's not okay
for young children but okay for adults and seniors. Consider though
that seniors have far more lead in their system because lead accumulates
and either never leaves the body or leaves the body very slowly.
Experts say that even a small amount of additional lead can cause
acute problems in the elderly. The insidious part of approving
lead for seniors, and for poor seniors in particular, is that changes
that occur may not be attributed to lead but to old age instead,
and never treated properly.
Wildlife Watch believes that the NYS Health Department
should not have approved the flesh in complicity with the DEC.
They were merely helping to whitewash the unpopular slaughter and
exploiting the poor to do it. One spokesman for the Health Dept.
said, "It's worse for a child's brain to be affected because
children have to go to school." It seems that seniors are
According to Industrial Toxicology, a book
published by Publishing Sciences Group, Inc. in 1974, it says, "There
is literature on the biological effects of lead too vast to condense
for this text." Lead affects the gastrointestinal tract, the
kidneys, the liver, and the brain, causing confusion and nervousness.
The question we ask is why did the NYS Dept. of Health
involve itself in the approval of "food" that comes from
wildlife that has been observed floating in waters near a nuclear
power plant and feeding on grasses sprayed with pesticides. Canada
geese carry leadshot in their flesh because they have been shot
illegally with lead here and legally with lead in Canada. They
also graze in areas where lead is legal. The DOH should not have
involved itself, or should have suggested that seniors have their
blood lead level tested prior to ingesting the flesh that had higher
than usual lead levels.
Following our demonstration we went to the legal
section of the health department and presented them with a Notice
of Dangerous Condition of Action. That document strengthens any
lawsuit brought against them.
The foodbank would not have distributed the flesh
if not for the findings of the DOH. The "approval" of
the DOH is a betrayal of public confidence. The public didn't realize
that the approval was based on negotiations with the people who
wanted the geese used as food to whitewash a wildlife slaughter.
Wildlife Watch put an ad into the Daily Star, one of the
main newspapers in Delaware County, NY. It was a warning to seniors
about the risk of ingesting goose flesh served at these centers.
We were thrilled to learn that at one center all 60 seniors voted
not to accept the goose flesh! Later it was reported in the Rockland
paper that the taste test was a failure, but they would serve the
goose flesh anyway. They would cook it differently next time, the
food director said. We responded that taste should not be a criterion
for whether the flesh should be served or not. After all, rat poison
tastes sweet to a rat.