AJ Soprano's Food Conspiracy Theory

A great moment in tonight's Sopranos episode: when AJ, before worse things happen, rants at a family dinner about how meat is unsafe because the FDA is letting companies spray viruses onto the meat to eliminate bacteria. I don't know about you, but I let out a huge: "Huh?" Turns out AJ was right: last August, the FDA approved a cocktail of bacteriophages that attack the bacteria that causes listeria, a classic food-borne bacterial disease that can sometimes be fatal (500 people a year in the US die from listeria). The spray is developed by the biotech company Intralytix, and according to their website its a totally safe additive that can only add to a reduction in food-borne illnesses.

The sceptics say that there's too much unknown about the properties of the phages, and that - on the face of it - putting viruses onto foods is a bad idea.

So: is it a conspiracy theory? There's sure a lot of crazy websites out there: here's a Google search - most of the hits are to fringe nutritional websites. And here's the FDA's FAQ about the approval.

So if nothing else, AJ was definitely on to a genuinely deep conspiracy theory. Kudos to Sopranos creator David Chase for catching this one.

Thomas Goetz1 Comment