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Its a gas, gas, gas
Changes a long time coming
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 Finally, finally, the fog has lifted and news about officials in Washington, D.C. tackling matters of national import is emerging. The Agricultural Marketing Service of the Department of Agriculture is proposing to revise the United States standards for grades of canned baked beans.

Yes, baked beans. Don’t scoff and just think about the impact on such products as pork and beans or the impact on such occasions as church pot lucks or Labor Day barbecues.

The AMS suggests replacing process-specific language “Product description” in the standard with language reflective of current canned baked bean manufacturing practices. Additionally, AMS proposes separating the canned dried beans, canned pork and beans, and canned baked beans grade standards from one shared standard document into three separate standard documents. 

“These changes would bring the grade standards for canned baked beans in line with the present quality levels being marketed today and would provide guidance in the effective use of these products,” according to a USDA statement.

It’s about time.

Anyone with an opinion on this hefty issue had better hurry. Comments must be submitted on or before Oct. 19.

Written comments may be submitted via the, by email to the bean master, or by mail to Brian E. Griffin, Standardization Branch, Specialty Crops Inspection Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 0709, South Building; STOP 0247, Washington, DC 20250

Copies of the proposed revised United States Standards for Grades of Canned Baked Beans are available at the addresses cited above and at the AMS Web site at  

They shouldn’t stop here. It is also high time we revisit the standards for hot dogs (what’s the definition of a brat versus a frank), potato salad (is that yellow coloring really mustard?), coleslaw and water melons (just how do they come up with those seedless varieties?).

The bottom line is that our picnics can never be too safe and we really need the government to step in and make them better. After all, it has done so well on other fronts.

Seriously, the fact this is an issue is a real gas. It is another example of a lot of federal hot air.

Dale Hogg