Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Food Safety, Bioterrorism, and a Case of Too Many Agencies Spoil the Broth

Originally uploaded by margejames.

An article in the Hartford Courant mentioned the recent outbreaks of food poisoning in restaurants as well as food recalls, and how many government agencies are involved in the investigations.
The E. coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell restaurants peaked last month, but no precise cause has been determined - and one reason for the lag, critics say, is that too many agencies are involved.... In all, 12 to 15 federal agencies are responsible for different aspects of food safety.
Olive Garden is the latest casualty. Take a look at the list of food recalls as listed by the Courant and also check out the government websites. For further recall updates, visit the FDA website at or the USDA website.
Some people are beginning to think that some forms of bioterrorism may be at work, otherwise it's just a case of careless workers contaminating the food. I'd hate to think that some small scale tests of purposeful food contamination have been carried out, just to see what happens. In any case, clearly some things have to be done to protect the integrity of the food supply. (and yes, I know that we already have enough "poisons" in our food like neurotoxins in additives, preservatives, and food colorings).
Here is yet another interesting article on agricultural bioterrorism and an interesting blog, plus this report on food borne illnesses and how they get to your table.
As always, consumers can protect themselves by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water, peeling produce and removing the outer leaves of leafy vegetables.

1 comment:

Dana said...

The lettuce is the worst. I read somewhere that you can/should rinse it in a mild bleach solution, first. In fact, when I lived on the border, there were frequent reminders to wash even fruits such as cantaloupe because the amount of e coli found on their surfaces was sometimes quite high and slicing with a knife could contaminate the fruit.

There will probably be increased regulation of some sort if they are able to trace anything down, but ulimately, it won't affect anything if it is coming in from Mexico, which was the problem on the border.