The regulatory activities governing food safety continue to pose a “high risk” to the economy and public health, declared the Government Accountability Office in January of this year (link) — the consequence of a fragmented legal and organizational structure with insufficient authority and too few resources to protect the American people.

For years now, the American people have learned to live with the possibility that their food may not be safe

In February, 2009, Congresswoman Rose L. DeLauro* of Connecticut introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act. In addition to establishing a new, separate Food Safety Administration within the USDA, this legislation would provide the regulatory tools to access important records, recall products and penalize companies for knowingly selling tainted products. Separating food safety regulation from drug and device approvals would go a long way toward restoring the balance that has long been missing at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and give food safety the attention it deserves. By establishing a Food Safety Administration within Health and Human Services, headed by its own commissioner, we can give food safety experts and researchers the room and the resources to do their jobs.

ADDED: Rep. DeLauro is married to Stanley Greenburg, who works for Monsanto, which seems not to have been the champion of organic food. /Editor

For years now, the American people have learned to live with the possibility that their food may not be safe. The list of incidents has grown month after month, from spinach to shellfish from ground beef to peppers. This first decade of the 21st century has been rife with significant tainted food outbreaks. Last summer, there was another salmonella outbreak that sickened more than twice as many as this year’s peanut scare — about 1,400 people. A new study by the CDC estimates that as many as one in four Americans contract a foodborne sickness every year — as many as 250 kinds. Only a very few of these are widespread outbreaks. Usually it just results in stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea that the victims sometimes don’t even associate with something they ate.

Sometimes the food isn’t always to blame. A lack of basic hygiene among restaurant employees results in the spread of infectious disease more often than just about anything short of biological warfare. Research has shown that a leading cause of food poisoning in the U.S. is residual fecal matter on the hands of restaurant employees. Tens of millions get sick every year for this reason alone. We’ve all seen the posted instructions in public restrooms, but this obviously has not been effective.

So, besides the cost of eating out, the quality of food in restaurants and where it actually comes from, we now must seriously take into account the employee hygienic issue. Threaten to eat at home unless your favorite restaurant considers the following:

  1. Place over every sink: ‘Scrub to The Alphabet Song & All Germs Will Be Gone
  2. Install a BIFFY on every commode in employee restrooms for both genders.
  3. Make non-toxic Waterless Hand Purifier conveniently mandatory in all work areas.

U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-New Haven, represents Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District and serves as the chairwoman of the Agriculture-FDA Appropriations Subcommittee. See also the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 at the Library of Congress website, loc.gov.

ADDED April 14, 2009: HR 875 not so healthy for food supply?

Contributing Author Lynn Cameron owns the AromaVital.com website and has conducted her own research into the complementary health field since the early seventies.

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4 Comments for "Food Safety Still High Risk to Economy"

  1. Jim Bynum

    Politicians talk about food safety, even talk about enacting laws. However, as long as they keep allowing partially treated sewage to be used for irrigation of vegetables in the Salinas Valley there is still going to be foodborne ourbreaks. California rules state no sample of irrigation water shall exceed a coliform level of 240 MPN/100 ml. You are not told that coliform is the name of the test for the 2,400 E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, etc. per liter of irrigation water. Now there are also 40 miles of irrigation pipe in which bacterial biofilms may form. When the pipes are bumped, or caused to vibrate with a water surge, biofilms may break loose and there is another foodbrone outbreak and the Salinas Valley farmers lose another 100 million dollars, plus the court cost. They will continue to suspect cattle rather than admit treated sewage might have been involved.

    The other side of the coin is that sewage concentrate, better known as sludge or biosolids, are dumped on farms as fertilizer for food crops and grazing land with unknown levels of E. coli, Salmonella, shigella, etc.
    The reason the pathogen levels are unknown is that the elevated temperature fecal coliform test will only show E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, klebsiella, etc. that grow or multiply at 112.1degF. That eliminates most bacteria that only grow well in the temperature range between 77 and 104degF. While the high temperature test injure bacteria and prevent growth in the test, the bacteria in the sewage concentration continue to happily multiply and you have infected cattle and crops —– with more foodborne outbreaks

  2. Lynn Cameron

    Wow, Jim, thanks for posting this.
    Perhaps it will get this type of information out where it may get some grassroots action. I don’t imagine that this issue is unique to the Salinas Valley, either.

    Since WWOF has just been written up by The New York Times’ editors as a reference for the growing population of folks interested in such things as you write of. http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/o/organic_food/index.html maybe your info will get widespread exposure.

    This issue has so many facet spin-offs to it – like dominoes. One that comes to my mind is that animals and humans that might come into contact with these pathogens are, at this point in time, so depleted of nutrients and weighed down by a load of many toxins that the danger in this sewage sludge is even more serious today than it would have been even a few decades ago. Of course, one could argue that it wasn’t there at all in the past.

    For sure, organic farmers/ranchers don’t need a single other cross-to-bear. They work 24/7 with even less consideration than teachers get. And, we’re pretty much dead without them.

    Lynn

  3. Diane Vigil

    Actually, WWOF was simply linked to by the NY Times. But it’s nice.

  4. HR 875 not so healthy for food supply?

    […] covered in our Food Safety Still High Risk to Economy, in February 2009, Congresswoman Rose L. DeLauro of Connecticut introduced the Food Safety […]

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