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Food Deaths: the Annual 9/11

January 6, 2013

Each year, 130,000 Americans are hospitalized and 3,000 die of contaminated food. That’s an annual 9/11.

Where is the public outcry? Where are the federal dollars to fight these microbial terrorists?

For the first time since the Reagan era of deregulation, when meat inspectors were cut back to walk-through level, and cattle were allowed to graze on fields covered with two-week composted manure, the FDA proposes comprehensive regulations to protect food.

I’m sure you anticipate major new high technologies comparable to X-ray scatter scanning and mosquito drones. Imagine what it takes to prevent these thousands of injuries and deaths. Well, here are some of the rules the FDA came up with for agribusiness, presumably lacking at present:

  • Quality standards for irrigation water
  • Farm workers must wash their hands
  • Install portable toilets in the field, so the farm workers need not urinate in fields
  • Keep cooked food separate from uncooked food

As an official explained, “These new rules really set the basic framework for a modern, science-based approach to food safety.”

Some criticize the White House for delaying the rules to avoid “Republican criticism.” But keep in mind the previous three decades of largely Republican inertia and inaction. One wonders how long it will take to require PCR testing the food DNA, something high school students already do for science fairs. But for now, let’s give a salute to the awesome First Family back from holiday, and a government agency to protecting our food.

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