Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Department of Food Safety?

It's regulatory chaos in the current Bush bureaucracy, according to an AP article that takes a lot of paragraphs to tell us nothing about how our food may be made safer. Food producers and government agencies want to avoid another E Coli spinach episode like the one in the fall of 2006.

"Since September, two produce industry groups that together represent thousands of U.S. growers, processors, distributors, restaurants and supermarkets have worked to hasten revised guidelines for preventing contamination of leafy greens.

The goal is to tell farmers, before spring planting, and then consumers about the new safety guidelines."

Not a hint as to what those new guidelines might include. The problem is that somehow the E Coli virus originates in animals and so farmers must be very careful about what types of fertilizers they use and where they come from. However, in the case of the contaminated spinach, the last story I read put the blame on wild hogs that carry the E Coli virus into streams and ground water that eventually feed into vast acres of "organically" grown vegetables.

Here's more:

"The FDA started work on new safety recommendations in 2004 and has come up with voluntary guidelines for the vegetables that cause more than 80 percent of outbreaks from produce. They are lettuce and leafy greens, tomatoes, green onions, herbs and cantaloupes.

As outbreaks have continued, the agency has looked for more ways to prevent them and respond more quickly. But that effort has been slowed while agency staff was diverted to handle the latest outbreaks.

"Obviously, up to this point things have not worked as well as they should have," Acheson said.

Consumer groups say things have not worked well because of inadequate money and staffing at FDA.

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, said putting one agency in charge of food safety would be a big improvement.

"It's regulatory chaos" now, Kimbrell said.

The Bush administration opposes the idea, saying it is unnecessary."

No matter what the problem that government is supposed to be handling, we find chaos and incompetence instead of an organized professional response. Public service used to be term that meant what it said. Now it appears to be nothing more than a chance to rip us off and toss us onto the heaps of spreading germs and viral infectious agents.

The beautiful picture of spinach was acquired from here -- Willie Green's Organic Farm in the state of Washington sounds like a great source for safe spinach.

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