Sunday, April 27, 2008

The forbidden "bacon dog"

The knowall food tyrants of Los Angeles

Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles, there exists another world, an underground world of illicit trade in-not drugs or sex-but bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Street vendors may sell you an illegal bacon dog, but hardly anyone will talk about it, for fear of being hassled, shut down or worse. Our camera caught it on tape. One minute bacon dogs are sold in plain view, the next minute cops have confiscated carts, and ordered the dogs dumped into the trash.

Elizabeth Palacios is one of the few vendors willing to speak publicly. "Doing bacon is illegal," she explains. Problem is customers love bacon, and Palacios says she loses business if she doesn't give them the bacon they demand. "Bacon is a potentially hazardous food," [What utter rubbish! I eat it every day for breakfast!] says Terrence Powell of the LA County Health Department. Continue selling bacon dogs without county-approved equipment and you risk fines and jail time.

Palacios knows all about that. She spent 45 days in the slammer for selling bacon dogs, and with the lost time from work, fines, and attorney's fees, she fears she might lose the house that bacon dogs helped buy. She must provide for her family, but remains trapped between government regulations and consumer demand. Customers don't care about safety codes, says Palacios. "They just want the bacon."


More evidence of social class effects

Wealthy people have a far lower risk of suffering a stroke — but only until the age of 65. Researchers in the United States studied the personal circumstances of almost 20,000 people aged 50 and over. They followed them for more than eight years, on average, in which time there were 1,542 strokes.

In the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, Mauricio Avendano, of Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, and colleagues showed that people aged 50 to 64 in the poorest tenth of the population had a risk of stroke that was three times greater than those in the richest 10 per cent. “Wealth is the strongest predictor of stroke among the factors we looked at,” Dr Avendano said. But after the age of 65 the links between wealth and stroke risk disappear.

Lack of resources, and especially money, appear to influence strongly people’s chances of having a stroke at an early age, Dr Avendano said. “This would mean that diminishing the large wealth gap at age 50-64 also could help to diminish the large disparities in stroke.” Comparisons showed that common risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, smoking, inactivity, excess weight and diabetes, were more common in poorer people.


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