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You Can’t Eat Anything…Even If It Looks Clean.

on February 8, 2012

Nothing is safe! Not even condiments! This is what I have learned in my food class. Beef is NOT necessarily beef. And if it is beef, it might have cow poo , resulting in E. coli on it from when it was being skinned. Lettuce has animal feces on it (not that it is particularly tragic for me, since I don’t actually like lettuce). But still, for those of the population who eat spinach, lettuce, and tomatoes, I’m sorry to say that steering clear of meat doesn’t make you exempt from foodborne illnesses. Even if you only eat condiments like vinegar for the rest of your life, you may not be safe from falling ill because of a mistake made by someone else [unless you don’t refrigerate your Mayo. Then that’s your fault.]

But seriously, last year in China, 11 people died because of “vinegar that was stored in barrels that previously contained antifreeze.” Was this a result of a laziness? Or from a lack of proper enforcement of laws?

This notion of proper law enforcement of food safety is a very real concern in the U.S. today. In the U.S. the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) is responsible for 80% of the food that we eat. However, they have significantly less funding than the USDA, another government agency, which is responsible for only 20% of our food regulation. Within the whole of the government, the balance of work is completely disproportionate to the amount of funding and labor needed to get the jobs done. For example, there was a law passed in 1906 that said that there needed to be one inspector per slaughterhouse per day in order to make sure the meat was properly cleaned and prepared, etc. HOWEVER, there were only 163 slaughterhouses in 1906, so that law was completely do-able. Now there are literally thousands of slaughterhouses nation-wide. Not only that, but the food industry has grown so much that the government is basically letting the industries themselves figure out the best measures for food safety. Really? From 1982 to 2002 there were 350 outbreaks of E. coli, which infected thousands of people. E. coli is not just a virus. It could just give you simple flu like symptoms; it also has killing potential. I’m not saying that lackadaisical enforcement of laws was the sole contributor to the number of outbreaks. But from what I understand, the government should be doing more to regulate and enforce proper handling of our food. I don’t know exactly how this should be done, but maybe updating laws from 1906 would be a good starting place.

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One response to “You Can’t Eat Anything…Even If It Looks Clean.

  1. SHS says:

    You know, “some” factions believe that too much government regulation infringes on citizens’ rights, and that industries should be allowed to police their own. I think gov’t has an obligation to enforce laws that protect its citizens.

    Does this mean you’re rescinding the 5-second rule?

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