Seattlepi.com has an interesting story about how well we can expect our federal agencies to ensure that the food that makes it to our tables is safe to eat. The focus of the story is but naturally, the salmonella food poisoning crisis that has engulfed the country with 6 deaths connected to the epidemic so far.
The biggest source of concern to American consumers in this latest crisis, the report says is the manner in which the Food and Drug Administration dragged its feet for more than three months before confirming an outbreak. The latest crisis that has involved the agency’s food safety protocol has had consumer safety advocates, food poisoning lawyers as well as the public, wondering how the FDA which found out weeks ago that the Georgia plant of Peanut Corporation of America was the source of the particular strain of Salmonella found in the contaminated peanut butter, could have waited so long before they even confirmed the source. The FDA continued to mouth the same line – that the peanut butter in question was only sold to restaurants, nursing homes and food companies, but they still have not released a list of all Peanut Corporation of America clients who may have received the contaminated butter. The FDA’s outdated practices mean that manufacturers are rarely forced to recall their products. The agency prefers to rely on voluntary recalls by companies, and in many cases, these are too late to prevent severe illnesses.
More companies meanwhile are queuing up to announce recalls of their products that contain peanut butter. General Mills has recalled 2 varieties of snack bars because butter used in the snacks came from the Peanut Corporation of America. Other companies including Perry’s Ice cream Company, Food Lion Cookie, Hy-Vee Inc, have all removed their products containing peanut butter from store shelves as a precautionary measure because of the fear that these could contain traces of the contaminated butter.
What’s important to note is that these companies are not being asked by the FDA to recall these products, but are doing it voluntarily. You may wonder what exactly it is that the country’s premier food safety agency does to justify its existence, when the number of people sickened by Salmonella contamination that surfaced in September has crossed 470 with 6 people deadand at least 90 hospitalized? Citizens, the media and food poisoning lawyers have no problem being up in arms when contaminated products made overseas make it to our table, but it is time to admit that we do have a food safety crisis of our own going on in the U.S.