Crab Picking on Smith IslandOn June 21, The Sun published...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 10, 1995

Crab Picking on Smith Island

On June 21, The Sun published a brief Associated Press article entitled "Crab reprieve extended."

I am one of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene officials who has been working with the representatives of the Smith Island Crabmeat Cooperative Inc. to develop a program by which, under strict departmental supervision, the members of this cooperative would be allowed to pick crab meat for sale in Maryland until their plant is constructed. I would like to clarify the status of those negotiations and correct several misunderstandings regarding the consent order and judgment.

The first point is that the consent order and judgment covers only the members of the Smith Island Crabmeat Cooperative Inc. who signed the original document last year and who will be eligible to sign any renegotiated order this year.

Unlicensed pickers operating without departmental supervision are not authorized to pick crab meat for sale in Maryland and remain subject to regulatory actions.

As of July 3, the negotiations on a revision of the consent order and judgment were still under way for 1995 and had not been signed by any of the parties.

Most of the major provisions of a revision had been negotiated and provide for rigorous monitoring by the department, review and approval of a detailed crab meat processing plan to be submitted by each individual member of the cooperative, frequent on-site inspection during all phases of steaming, picking, packaging and storage of crab meat to assure that it is properly handled and stored to prevent contamination and growth of bacteria, random bacteriological sampling of crab meat at frequent intervals and clear labeling of the crab meat container indicating that sale is limited to the state of Maryland.

These measures have been agreed to by members of the cooperative and are part of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's ongoing efforts to protect the public's health by assuring food processed in Maryland is wholesome and safe.

Diane L. Matuszak

Baltimore

The writer represents the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Stereotypes

I hope that The Sun can come up with a better explanation for using an ethnically insensitive remark than those featured on the front of the Style section July 5.

After seeing in print the Michael Jackson text using "jew" as a verb, reading about the subsequent outrage these lyrics caused, and explanations given by the author, I came across a parallel construction in the editorial page.

The lead article editorial contains an uncaring reference to the Welsh: Orange County "welshing" on its debt.

Both terms, "to jew" and "to welsh," refer to derogatory ethnic stereotypes about certain groups and their relationships to money and commerce.

The Sun is showing striking insensitivity in following the stories about popularly recognized "political correctness" while showing its failure to understand what real negative stereotyping means by not recognizing the repugnance associated with all ethnic cliches.

An apology is in order.

John H. Clemson

Baltimore

Wrong on Trucking

It's the job of the editorial cartoonist to provoke, to comment and frequently to criticize. It is a job KAL does well, though those who have been on the wrong end of his occasionally stinging barbs may think otherwise.

It is not the job of the editorial cartoonist, however, to report or state a seemingly objective fact. By his very nature, the editorial cartoonist is a subjective figure, with ultimately no accountability for his "reportage" -- especially when that reportage, as in the June 22 edition of The Sun, is downright wrong.

I'm referring, of course, to the box at the lower left of that morning's cartoon, which states, "Important News: Trucking Companies Frequently Flaunt Federal Safety Rules."

The important news is that there is little evidence of any such thing at all.

In fact, the Federal Highway Administration has reported that of all the trucks and drivers inspected nationwide during 1993, only 5.4 percent of drivers were placed out of service due to violations of the federally mandated hours of service. And only 1.8 percent of fatal accidents were found to be related to driver fatigue.

In Maryland, industry has been at the forefront of the safety improvements that have gotten us this far and will take us even farther.

It was the trucking industry that called for the creation of the commercial driver's license, a national licensing program that limits fraud and gets unsafe drivers off the road.

It was the trucking industry that urged the police to increase the number of roadside inspections, which, in Maryland, have gone up more than 115 percent since 1989.

It was the trucking industry that called for drug and alcohol testing requirements, which have shown that less than 1 percent of drivers abuse such substances while driving.

We admit that there is more to be done and we are committed to further improvements.

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