Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sick of Tainted Food

It seems like every time I turn around there is another recall on some food item. Do we have to play Russian roulette with our food choices, or shouldn’t there be more concern over the safety of our food.

More than 170.4 million eggs were recalled from stores in as many as 14 states nationwide due to a recent widespread salmonella scare that has impacted the lives of more than half a billion people. The FDA announced on July 9 that it had new safety rules for large-scale egg producers, but the new rules came late in the game as they apparently appeared after the salmonella outbreak began. 

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But what concerns me is that all this could have been prevented in the first place. Jack DeCoster, who leads Wright County Egg, in June, pleaded guilty to 10 civil counts of animal cruelty over his company's treatment of its chickens. DeCoster and his company agreed to a $25,000 fine and made a $100,000 payment to reimburse the state for future monitoring of the facility.

Allegations included too many birds in case, injured chickens not being treated, dead animals not being promptly removed from cages and improper euthanization. But then we wonder why every year something new is recalled.

But this isn’t the first time we had a major country-wide food scare. Anything from beef to tomatoes has been put on a list at one point of tainted foods. Experts say that food-borne illnesses cost the country around $152 billion a year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures there are about 76 million illnesses in the U.S. each year, landing about 325,000 people in the hospital. And about 5,000 people probably die from the illnesses in the U.S. each year. If this doesn’t spark anyone’s interest to make a change in food safety and regulations, then I don’t know what will.

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