Bureaucratic Rationality #7: the Louisiana State Health Department vs. Health and Adequate Nutrition in Louisiana

From occupied Louisiana, here’s how a state Health Department is forcing homeless shelters to destroy demonstrably safe and healthy meat because even though they accept the safety record of the slaughterhouse that processed it, they don’t recognize the organization that donated it, and, even though venison is something that humans have subsisted on since before recorded history, it’s not an approved meat source to be distributed commercially.

SHREVEPORT, La. (CBS Houston) — Louisiana’s State Health Department forced a homeless shelter to destroy $8,000 worth of deer meat because it was donated from a hunter organization.

KTBS-TV reports that the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission lost 1,600 pounds of venison because the state’s Health Department doesn’t recognize Hunters for the Hungry, an organization that allows hunters to donate any extra game to charity.

We didn’t find anything wrong with it, Rev. Henry Martin told KTBS. It was processed correctly, it was packaged correctly.

The trouble began last month after the Department of Health and Hospitals received a complaint that deer meat was being served at the homeless shelter. A health inspector went out and told the homeless shelter that deer meat was not allowed to be served and that is had to be destroyed.

Although the meat was processed at a slaughterhouse (Bellevue) that is permitted by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to prepare and commercially distribute meat obtained from approved farms, deer are not an approved meat source to be distributed commercially, the department said on its Facebook page. And because hunters brought the deer to the slaughterhouse, there is no way to verify how the deer were killed, prepared or stored.

So, therefore:

Martin says that bleach had to be poured onto the meat in order to destroy it.

They threw it in the dumpster and poured Clorox on it, Martin told KTBS. Not only are we losing out and it’s costing us money, the people that are hungry aren’t going to get as quality of food, the hunter that’s given his meat in good faith is losing out.

While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public, the Health Department stated.

— CBS Houston (25 February 2013), Louisiana Forces Homeless Shelter to Destroy $8,000 Worth of Deer Meat

Here, as everywhere, the Licensing State operates on the fundamental assumption that anything it doesn’t know about, must be a potentially serious health threat, and the only way that it can know about anything is by checking whether or not the source has the right paper license, issued according to the state’s unilaterally dictated procedures. It doesn’t matter that literally nobody has been hurt and many people in desperate circumstances have been helped; it doesn’t matter you can show them there isn’t anything wrong with the meat; all that matters is that you can’t show them your papers. And so, rather than asking to just test some of the meat, or accepting the results of the health and safety tests that were already performed at the slaughterhouse, they sadistically insist that the food must be thrown away and rendered inedible with bleach, at tremendous expense and to the known detriment of the shelter and the health and nutrition of the homeless people who depend on it, so that they can ensure that the right forms are filled out and only officially licensed meat is served in the state of Louisiana. This sado-statist compliance hold on desperately-needed food, which insists on bureaucratic procedure and approving legal recognition at the expense of demonstrable safety, is dignified as protecting the people who eat at Rescue Mission from the food that they need to get by.

Bureaucratic rationality, n. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may have something good in their life without your authorization.

See also.

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4 replies to Bureaucratic Rationality #7: the Louisiana State Health Department vs. Health and Adequate Nutrition in Louisiana Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Sean

    The willful stupidity is beyond astounding. This is the machine at work.

  2. Jacques

    “The trouble began last month after the Department of Health and Hospitals received a complaint that deer meat was being served at the homeless shelter.”

    Ah… probably a concerned citizen, outraged and upset that Bambi was on the dinner menu. And the Department of Health rides in like the plague, and has the meat destroyed.

    I vote for this: We take those “inspectors” - throw them in a garbage bin - and douse them with Clorox. They’d be too tough to eat in any event, and we’d be ridding the world or real vermin.

  3. Nathan Goodman

    What’s particular disturbing is that the homeless (and many lifestyle anarchists as well) often get food out of the dumpster. So, it’s quite possible that the Health Department may have actually created toxic food that a particularly hungry person will attempt to eat. To “protect” people from a phantom of “dangerous food,” they have not only deprived homeless people of perfectly good food, they have made food that they may still eat genuinely toxic.

    • Rad Geek

      @Nathan,

      Unfortunately dousing food with bleach is a pretty common institutional practice — a lot of restaurants and grocery stores have been doing it for years, and it’s one of the common hazards for FNBers and other dumpster divers to be aware of. (See for example discussion here at tribe.net.) If asked they will usually claim that it is to stop the food from attracting animals. In reality it is done with a fairly deliberate sadistic intent of ruining the food for human dumpster divers.

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