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Steelhammer: Gatorade gives in, a giant squid gets its closeup

Gatorade, the sports drink and seasonal fashion accessory favored by coaches of bowl-winning football teams, may be able to quench the fires of thirst, but may soon be less effective at quenching just plain fires.

In response to "rumblings" from Gatorade drinkers, including more than 200,000 who signed an online petition, the makers of Gatorade decided on Friday to stop using brominated vegetable oil to spread flavoring agents evenly through the contents of several of its sport beverages.

In addition to its use as a beverage emulsifier, brominated vegetable oil has been patented as a fire retardant, and has been banned from use in food products in European Union countries and Japan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration imposes no such restrictions here.

I suppose I should be more concerned, but the idea of drinking a beverage with fire retardant capabilities doesn't really bother me. After all, water has been used as a fire retardant for centuries, with no apparent side effects.

Gatorade announced that it is replacing brominated vegetable oil with something called sucrose acetate isobutyrate.

Something that healthy-sounding should keep everyone happy.

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Last week, I devoted part of this space to an examination of an imitation calamari product and its unsavory pork byproduct main ingredient. But imitation calamari may be a thing of the past, thanks to a recent discovery by marine biologists searching the ocean depths 500 miles off the coast of Japan.

"Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real," which airs Sunday on the Discovery Channel, documents the first-ever video filming of a live giant squid in its natural habitat. Sporting 600-some pounds of calamari on the 40-foot tentacle, giant squid like the one videotaped for the Discovery Channel have previously been documented only through sporadic sightings at sea, or when their bodies wash up on shore.

The filming of this giant was the culmination of years of searching, which ended when an intensive six-week search by an armada of deep-diving manned submersibles made possible a face-to-face encounter.

The successful encounter with the giant squid was not the result of stealth and subtlety. New Zealand biologist Steve O'Shea told an interviewer that he chummed the waters with an extract of chemicals from the arms, gonads and mantles of adult squids and descended into the deep with "lights blazing, singing Neil Diamond, making as much noise as possible and squirting all sorts of chemicals into the water."

 The approach worked, O'Shea said, partly because he is convinced the giant squid "is one of the most stupid animals in the ocean. The only thing going through that 20 gram brain is eating and breeding."

My non-scientific take on the sea giant's gender?

Must've been a guy.


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