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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Playing Chicken with Food Safety

The other day there was this guy in a chicken suit on Pennsylvania Avenue protesting outside the White House. Silly, but the reason the chicken and other demonstrators had crossed the avenue was to deliver a petition of more than half a million names, speaking out against new rules the US Department of Agriculture wants to put into effect – bad rules that would transfer much of the work inspecting pork and chicken and turkey meat from trained government inspectors to the processing companies themselves. Talk about putting the fox in the henhouse!
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that “each year roughly one in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.” Every state in the union has seen an outbreak in foodborne illness over the last decade; men, women and children made sick by E.coli, salmonella and other pathogens in everything from meat to produce, cereal, even peanut butter. The progressive website Truthout notes that “Americans are 110 times more likely to die from contaminated food than terrorism… at an annual cost to the economy of nearly $80 billion.”

And yet, when Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act almost three years ago, designed to toughen standards, the representatives of the food industry – spending tens of millions in campaign contributions and lobbying money — went after it with a vengeance, delaying and watering the final version down so much that the Food and Drug Administration can barely function, its own inspectors unable to fulfill their duties. (The situation was made even worse by the government shutdown.)"

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/10/05