President Obama has taken up the mantle on food safety. In his latest radio address to the nation, Obama said, “In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your president, but as a parent.” Let’s hope so. In yesterday’s post I included a link to one of my previous book reviews on “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. In the book, Pollan talks about how the nature of “food” in America has changed to the point where you can go to the store and buy a block of cheese that is actually imitation cheese. In other words – cheese that is not really cheese!
Thirty-five years ago, the F.D.A. did annual inspections of about half of the nation’s food-processing facilities. Last year, the agency inspected just 7,000 of the nearly 150,000 domestic food facilities, and its oversight of foreign plants, which provide a growing share of the nation’s food supply, is even more spotty.
Experts have long debated whether the F.D.A. should increase inspections or rely instead on private auditors and more detailed safety rules. By calling the limited number of government inspections an “unacceptable” public health hazard, Mr. Obama came down squarely on the side of increased government inspections.
These pieces of information – garnered from a recent New York Times article – show just how low America’s food safety standards have become. We’ve gone from inspecting 50% of the nation’s food processing facilities to inspecting just 4.6%. Come on. That’s clearly not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination.
And what do you get from this type of lackadaisical approach to food safety? Well, for one, you get the gigantic peanut recall that the country is now experiencing. The New York Times article also commented that some, “76 million people in the United States are sickened by contaminated food, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and about 5,000 die.” That’s no joke. Hey – I was one of the people who got food poisoning over the last year, too.
I hope that President Obama radically alters our current food safety system. If you’re interested in getting better quality food as a government mandate, think about sending your own message to President Obama</a> on this topic.