Thursday, August 6, 2009

Is The Fox Guarding The Chicken Coop...Is Anyone??

I just read a terrific opinion piece by Jane Byrne, an editor of about the "tainted" US food system. Her last line sums up her opinion pretty well. She states that "consumers should not have to eat their cake and fear it to." WOW! Pretty straight forward Jane. In light of the recent issues surrounding peanuts, pistachios, beef, poultry and who knows what else, it's a wonder folks aren't keeling over in the streets from tainted food products.

I learned some interesting facts from this article. We (well most of us) already know that our food industry is governed/controlled by two government agencies, USDA and FDA. What I didn't know (but probably should have) is that FDA gets only 20 percent of the food safety money spent by our government to protect 80 percent of the US food supply. Moreover (and probably the main reason for the recent food contamination issues), FDA has only about 1/10 of the number of inspectors as the USDA. Whoa! Something is definitely wrong with this picture. Why on earth does this system seem back-assward?? We must speak up to correct this obvious dichotomy.

FDA, which oversees not only food but drugs as well, obviously uses the vast majority of its resources policing (although not very well there either) the enormous US pharmaceutical and supplement industries. That leaves not much in the way of resources left for overseeing the US food supply. A case in point. In the recent Peanut Corporation of America scandal, the last time an FDA inspector had been to their Blakely, Georgia plant was 8 years ago! For plants that produce meat or poultry, they are inspected DAILY by the USDA! Amazing, huh.

It's time that we, as US food consumers speak up to our Senate and Representatives to tell them this cannot be tolerated any longer. Consumers should not be afraid every time they take a bite of food. Recently the UK and Ireland corrected similar problems (remember "Mad Cow" disease) by forming a separate government agency whose sole purpose is the inspection of food production facilities and put consumers first. This seems like a fairly simple solution to a very long-standing problem. What do you think??

Stevia Wizard

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