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The FDA, pets, and you

Elaine makes a good point about the inadequacy of the FDA in protecting us and our animals from contaminated food. I think the danger lies not only in the fact that the FDA's regulatory powers are limited at best, but also in the fact that most Americans believe this agency can do and does do more than it does. We trust it, in other words. It's time to take off those blinders, folks.

I have long known about the so-called inspections of meat, for example (see Fast Food Nation for a truly revealing description). Honestly, it would be laughable if it weren't so frightening. It makes me glad I'm a vegetarian. But interestingly, the recent e coli outbreak from spinach may well have come from cattle farmers near the contaminated fields of spinach. According to the FDA's final report:

...Potential environmental risk factors for E.coli O157:H7 contamination at or near the field included the presence of wild pigs, the proximity of irrigation wells used to grow produce for ready-to-eat packaging, and surface waterways exposed to feces from cattle and wildlife.

Thus, even those of us who avoid meat can be contaminated by it.

The investigation by the FDA and several other agencies into the e coli incident was thorough and involved DNA testing of bacteria to narrow down the suspect fields. This says to me that the tools are there, the investigative techniques are available. It's too bad as much effort is not put into the front end, into basic regular meaningful inspections of food for people and animals.

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madame_ugly
Apr. 13th, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
(not to sound like I'm coming to the FDA's aide) The whole way food is produced in this country (hell, the whole world) is the problem.

Agri-business is not concerned with the quality of the product it produces, just that it produces a lot of it cheap enough to make a healthy profit. This has been made clear to the consumer in numerous ways, from disease outbreaks, disgraceful working conditions for employees, dis-interest in the welfare of animals, and dis-interest in the environmental impact from production.

The FDA is a way for the government to get their fingers into the profits, plain and simple. They can make it appear the government is looking out for the people when in reality all the government is looking out for is the bottom line.
judith
Apr. 13th, 2007 04:38 pm (UTC)
Well, actually, I agree with you. At least in its present incarnation the FDA is too much a buddy of industry rather than a watchdog.

And yes, it's hard to combat the way food is produced now without major reforms.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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