Friday, June 13, 2008

Attack of the killer tomatoes

I found out about the salmonella scare early this week; sitting in front of the TV while eating a take-out sub sandwich loaded with nice, juicy tomatoes. I guess I've lucked out, since I didn't get sick, but it's hard to forget that "oh shit" feeling you get as the potentially lethal food slides down the throat. I have no statistics to back it up, but the number of food scares seems to be far larger than it once was, and now that one hardly ever knows where the stuff comes from, how it's been processed and handled, or who handled it -- a bit of fear is probably justified. Tainted spinach, peanut butter, ground beef and even medicines like Heparin have made headlines of late. Where's the FDA? Inspections have declined as the number of producers has increased, according to the GAO.

The GAO, commenting yesterday on the FDA's new plan to focus on the riskiest food products says it really can't be evaluated because the agency has revealed nothing about how this plan would be carried out. Perhaps, like Dick Cheney, the FDA will take their case for keeping essential knowledge about what we pay for a secret all the way to the Supreme Court. Perhaps not. All we have been told so far is that it's a "strategic vision."

I hate to belabor the subject of creeping deregulation and crawling chaos. There are far too many examples, and some of them deadly examples, of the results of turning over responsibility for public safety and even national security to for-profit groups and depending on the kindness of corporations. Besides, I'm starting to feel a little queasy.

Meanwhile we still don't know where the killer tomatoes are coming from.


Intellectual Insurgent said...

I'm currently reading a book called "The End Of Food" and it talks about this issue. Because the industrialization of food is so efficient, disease is spread much easier and it makes it tougher to track the source.

And the scary part is, the system is going into hyperspeed with GMO foods and cloned meat. These "scares" are going to happen more and more.

Time to grow our own food.

Capt. Fogg said...

Probably - and of course the way people travel around the world makes disease spread from person to person faster too.

cook everything.

adspar said...

Singer's "The Way We Eat" and Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" are highly recommended for a careful examination of our food system. The health risks and environmental consequences of the way our food is produced are shocking.

Eat local food from sustainable farms as much as possible.

Capt. Fogg said...

Perhaps Upton Sinclair is smiling somewhere. Some things haven't changed much.

Speaking of local sources - I have about 100 pounds of bananas ripening here. Anybody want bananas?