Bloomberg solves 3 year old maple syrup stink mystery

6 Feb

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A cold night in NYC...

A cold night in NYC…

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Finally some good news…

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that a working group comprised of New York City agencies, environmental officials from New Jersey, and the New York City Mayor’s office has determined for the first time the source of mysterious, sweet-smelling odors that have periodically been present in New York City since October 2005. Ongoing chemical analyses had shown that the unknown substance was not harmful, but it was not until one week ago today, when the City fully launched a new strategy and response protocol that included mapping the time and location of 311 odor complaints, overlaying wind and atmospheric conditions, and expediting field air sampling while New Yorkers were smelling the odor, that the smell could be identified and traced conclusively. With the cooperation of personnel from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, City officials have identified a facility in Hudson County that has processed foenugreek seeds to produce flavors and fragrances that resulted in esters being formed in the air on dates when 311 has received a high number of sweet-smelling odor complaints in the City.

And if you thought crowdsourcing was only useful in news gathering, then you’re forgetting about the power of our collective nose:

said OEM Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno. “But we couldn’t have solved the mystery without help from vigilant New Yorkers whose noses provided the data we needed to crack the case.”

And before you decide to blame Canada for this, it turns out that the smell was the result of combined chemicals from local food processors.

Frutarom, was processing foenugreek seeds to produce food additives one week ago on the evening of January 29, when multiple odor complaints were recorded.

Neither Frutarom nor any of the other processors appear to be violating any rules or laws. New York City, working closely with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, is still investigating other possible processors that could have contributed to other maple syrup events.

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