Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Food Recall Crisis?

You like cookie dough? Yeah, I do too. What about peanuts? Ditto. Spinach & tomatoes? Everyone needs a good serving of veggies. Once a vegan turned vegetarian turned meat eater, I now enjoy the occasional steak too. I could use a daily dose of beef, but doctors don't recommend it.

Today's topic in blogs: PRODUCT RECALLS

This year alone---380,000 pounds of beef were RECALLED. That's a lot of hamburgers. The recall had me checking the dates on the prepackaged meat I recently bought from the grocery store. Then there was the peanut butter; specifically peanut products. I practically live off PB&J. It's the equivalent to recalling top ramen noodles. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? When I got word that Nestle Toll House cookie dough was recalled, I thought "okay, that's probably a good thing for my waistline." But in all seriousness, spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos (may be missing a few food products) have all been on the FDA's list of recalls. What's next?

E. Coli, Salmonella---it's spreading fear and has Americans analyzing what's on their plate. Is this safe to eat? If the FDA can't protect us, who can? The Obama administration has now created a food safety panel aimed at strengthening safety standards. The new rules apply to poultry, beef, eggs, leafy greens, tomatoes etc.

Sounds like the Food and Drug Administration is non-verbally fessing up to a break down in food safety. Part of the problem? There wasn't enough oversight to begin with. There are 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses that supply food to the country. President Barack Obama says the FDA doesn't have enough $$$ (money) or enough employees to inspect all the plants. Ugh. You mean all these years, there were thousands of plants & warehouses the FDA failed to inspect annually?

NEW RULES (in short)

1. Better tracking systems, designed to trace where a bacterial outbreak originates
2. Better communication
3. New standards for egg and poultry producers
4. An increase in meat inspections
5. Stricter standards for vegetable producers

Part of the plan includes hiring more employees to oversee food safety. I should mention that the FDA isn't the only agency that inspects foods. The Agriculture Department mostly inspects meat, poultry and some egg products. There are more than a dozen GOVERNMENT agencies that overlook the country's food safety system. What do you think of the U.S. food safety system? Do you think the new rules are just a way to create an illusion that the administration is taking action? Or is this a step in the right direction?

For a more detailed look at the FDA's new rules, check out: