Listeria and Food Safety in the News

100_2115Once again the CDC has to step in when the USDA and FDA fail to “protect” us from food borne illness.    A Listeria outbreak linked to Crave Brothers Les Freres cheese is in the news.    This irritates the hell out of me for many reasons.   I feel badly for the victims and I feel angry that, once again, the food consumers of America are being hoodwinked and bamboozled into believing that these government agencies truly can keep our food supply safe.


The argument we heard again and again at the Maine State Legislature this session; when we were testifying about local food ordinances, raw milk, on-farm poultry processing and other Local Food Rules bills; was this:  we have to have regulation because that is the ONLY way to keep people safe.


Yeah, just like the red, orange, yellow, green Homeland Security warnings kept us safe from the Boston and Newtown tragedies.    Come on folks.   Yes, regulation may, or may not, keep our food safer but there are other ways to accomplish the same goal.   Ways that are not mutually exclusive with regulations.   Go ahead and regulate the big guys.   Knowing that you may or may not succeed in keeping the food supply safe.   But let the little guys alone.   Again, if a farmer is selling her or his goods face-to-face with consumers the chance of the food being crappy or old or contaminated is very, very small.   Farmers who try to pull that will not have many customers so there will be fewer people poisoned.


Oh, and by the way, this is the wording on the ingredients page of the Crave Brothers website: “Cultured Pasteurized Whole Milk, Enzymes, Salt.”   Notice the word pasteurized.   This was not the dangerous RAW milk cheese that so many fear.   The cheese that caused one person to die and another to lose her baby was made from milk that was PASTEURIZED!   The ultimate in safety, right?   Or so we are led to believe.


Buyers beware.   That is the bottom line.   Be aware that the USDA and FDA have, as one of their main missions, keeping the consuming public comfortable with the safety of the general food supply.   They are concerned about food safety, yes, but they are also concerned with perpetuating the wobbly notion that, just because they are regulating and inspecting our food, it is ALWAYS safe.   Keeping the engine of the economy humming along with blissful ignorance.  Keeping the folks at Cargill, Monsanto and the other big agribusinesses happy contributors to political campaigns by regulating and inspecting in the most superficial and least onerous manner possible.


How safe do you feel now?


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