Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Food Safety

Reflect and react to the following question: Whose responsibility is food safety? Give reasons for your answer.

This is sort of a toough question. You want to automatically reply, "It's the governments job; it's part of why we pay taxes like good, diligent citizens. Right?" However, since our government has a history of doing the bare minimum and leaving a lot up to "voluntary" reporting on the part of the producers, including recalls of known bad foods. However, the government at the same time has initiated procedures that make it very difficult for the small-scale producer or home grower to produce foods that meet USDA requirements.

Most of these requirements have very little to do with foods that are produced and consumed at a local or personal level. For example, take a look at what most dairy producers must do to sell their products: separate bathroom and washing facilities from the home, daily processing of milk, a separate, paved entrance to the dairy from the main road, and certain voltage lighting located a specified distance from the storage tanks. Not to mention that you can't sell raw milk in most states - it must be at least pasteurized. If traveling long distances then it is usually ultra-pasteurized to stabilize the product, destroying much of the nutritional value.

Another example of our government letting us down is the 1% testing for mad cow disease. When Great Britain had outbreaks of the disease, they took extensive measures to ensure the safety of beef. Most cattle were tested, and regulations were put in place to quarantine infected soils and destroy infected animals. After two years, they were able to continue their beef production. Most countries test a very high rate of animals, and destroy animals who potentially exhibit early signs of the disease. In our country, we barely test and testing and reporting is voluntary on the part of the producers. Who is protecting who? Sounds like the producers are getting it easy, while consumers are getting a questionable, but cheap product...

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