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Digging Deeper

 

A sign at one of the gates of Sunset Farms in Harris, Iowa, which is infected with avian flu. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)

The avian influenza virus is moving fast and it’s already the largest outbreak ever in the U.S.

Since the beginning of May, we’ve watched and Tweeted what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has titled “ALL Findings” of bird flu. The updates come daily, about 3 p.m. Central, from a page run by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

 

Michael Ellison, a Kansas City, Mo., food inspector, teaches a food handlers training class. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)
Michael Ellison, a Kansas City, Mo., food inspector, teaches a food handlers training class. (Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media)

The guy holding up the rubber chicken got a few laughs, but his message was quite serious.  

I sat in on a food handlers training class at the Kansas City, Mo., office of Environmental Public Health recently. And as boring as that sounds, the guy doing the training, Michael Ellison, was very entertaining.

Ellison has been a restaurant inspector and educator with the city for 26 years, and he’s got a lot of war stories. So when he held up the rubber chicken, a beige blob that could have been a leg, letting it wiggle a little, his class of three dozen people seeking food handler licenses giggled, but paid attention.

“Trust me, this chicken has been around the block a lot of times,” Ellison said, then made his point: “Ladies and gentlemen, this chicken is going to be cooked to at least 165 degrees.”

President Obama during his 2009 inaugural address, saying he would work to to “restore science to its rightful place” in federal policies. (Courtesy YouTube)
President Obama during his 2009 inaugural address, saying he would work to to “restore science to its rightful place” in federal policies. (Courtesy YouTube)

During President Obama’s inaugural speech, back before his hair turned gray and he was setting his ambitious agenda, he said he wanted to “restore science to its rightful place” in creating federal policies.

That was Jan. 20, 2009, with the world looking on and Obama emphasizing his point by curling his right hand into one of those soft fists politicians love to use.

Six years later, that rightful place is not the geography some scientists had hoped for, especially those who work in the U.S. Agriculture Department.

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