Southern California breaking news and trends

McDonald's 'pink slime' will soon be off the menu


Photo by Adam Kuban via Flickr Creative Commons

McDonald's is planning to ban from its burger recipe a controversial filler known as "pink slime." 

The Ghostbusters sounding food additive is created not by supernatural forces or Zuul, but rather by treating leftover beef trimmings "with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria," explains ABC LA.

Considered safe by the Department of Agriculture, the practice has received a McFlurry of recent media attention thanks in part to a documentary and campaign led by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

The fast food restaurant chain, with approximately 800 locations in Southern California, said the decision to dump the slime was not based on public criticism.

Perhaps it was the goo's potential for psychoreactive sass in response to human emotional states that influenced the stoppage.


Disturbing photos of classroom 'game' led authorities to teacher accused in child sex abuse case (Updated)

Mark Berndt

L.A. Sheriff's Department

Revolting and disturbing details continue to emerge in the case of a 30-year Los Angeles teacher arrested under suspicion of committing lewd acts on 23 children, including tying them up, putting cockroaches on their faces, and possibly feeding them his semen from a spoon.

61-year-old Mark Berndt was brought to the attention of authorities in October 2010 when a photo processor in Redondo Beach reported images of young children gagged and blindfolded, covered with cockroaches, and consuming liquid from a spoon.

The former Miramonte Elementary School teacher, who was fired in March, was taken from his Torrance home by authorities on Monday following a year-long investigation, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's department.

The suspect was a teacher of "average effectiveness," according to a Times analysis of standardized test scores,


Tempura storm with a chance of breadcrumbs: Downtown silo explosion sends Panko flour flying

panko tempura flour silos downtown los angeles little tokyo

Screenshot from "Panko Bread Crumbs: The Secrets Revealed" via YouTube

An explosion in downtown Los Angeles on Monday night sent a large cap flying about 150 feet from a flour silo near Little Tokyo. 

The silo, about 60 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter, was being refilled "when excessive pressure apparently cause the top to blow, said the Los Angeles Fire Department, according to the L.A. Times.

No injuries were reported in the accident that occurred at 411 Center St., an address registered to Upper Crust Enterprise, Inc., a 40,000-square-foot plant that processes gourmet Japanese Panko breadcrumbs and tempura batter.

According to Upper Crust's surprisingly watchable informational video, Panko Bread Crumbs: The Secrets Revealed, the facility receives multiple daily deliveries of "a proprietary blend of high protein flour" for their silos.

The downtown location also houses the company's main office and their R&D and quality assurance departments.


LA teacher Mark Berndt charged with sex crimes against 23 children

A longtime L.A. teacher has been charged with a slew of horrific crimes against the children he taught.

City News Service and the L.A. Times report that a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in L.A. County has been arrested for allegedly committing lewd acts on a child, according to the sheriff's department. Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested at his home in Torrance on Monday. He is being held on $2.3 million bail. The allegations involve photographs of lewd acts committed upon about two dozen children between the ages of 7 and 10. The crimes allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2010.

More disturbing details from the Times included that Berndt is accused of "allegedly tying them up, placing giant cockroaches on their faces and possibly feeding them his semen from a spoon," sometimes apparently inside a school.