Thoughts on safe food

Safe food. That’s what we all want. And that’s largely what we get. But each time a food recall occurs, it raises doubt in our minds — consumers’ minds — about just how safe our food really is. Are large food companies part of the problem? Is more regulation necessary?
I draw your attention today to an article written by Paul Schwennesen, an Arizona rancher, posted on a website called The Moral Liberal. Whether you agree or disagree, he has some interesting perspectives on food safety. They focus on the American situation, and that country’s plans for greater regulation to help ensure food safety. As Canadians know, what happens in the U.S. often filters its way up here, so you might want to read it with that in mind.

It’s a longer article, so here are some snippets to pique your interest:

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, the estimated number of deaths caused by foodborne illness falls between 5,000 and 8,000 a year (down a substantial 35 percent, by the way, from ten years ago). Sounds pretty bad, eh? Time to call in the Salmonella SWAT team? Before you do, consider that the same number of people die by intentionally strangling themselves each year. Or that the same number of people die from Alzheimer’s in California alone each year. Or that four times that number die each year accidentally falling off of things. Moreover, 70 percent of foodborne illness (and presumably deaths) results from poor food-handling procedures during preparation, not from poor food-production practices.”

And a further excerpt:

“The unintended consequence in this legislative bid to create safer food is to push more and more production into fewer and fewer hands. As we all know, the more top-heavy a thing gets, the more prone it is to toppling…. I may be waxing heretical, but might I suggest deregulation? Contrary to myth, markets are in fact very good at giving us what we want, even if those things are intangibles like clean air or safe food.”

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