Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

How long ago do suppose the FDA knew about this? The GOP has gutted them fiscally but it hasn't silenced them and we deserve to know when they are going to start protecting the American food supply and keeping us informed of potential problems before it is too late. The American food supply is increasingly affected by foreign companies that can either maliciously or accidentally contaminate our food supply. While most of these companies are probably well run and take their product quality and safety seriously the fact is that they are not responsible for the safety of the U.S. food supply . That it is the responsibility of the FDA who are seriously shirking this duty.
Thousands of hogs in at least five states and poultry at a Missouri farm ate salvage pet food that had been laced with an industrial chemical, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday , opening potential avenues for the contaminant to enter the human food supply.

Urine from hogs in California , North Carolina, and South Carolina tested positive for melamine , a chemical contained in rice protein concentrate imported from China . Hogs in New York , Utah, and, possibly, Ohio also ate tainted pet food, but their urine has not yet been tested.
I was just reading in the AJC yesterday a reader contributed column on food safety. The author was a food industry consultant and his warnings were pretty stark. Did you know that nearly 100% of the world supply of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which is used in thousands and thousands of products here in the U.S. is produced by a handful of companies in China? There is only one company in the Europe that still manufactures it and none in the U.S. Because of the low labor costs in China this trend is increasing and more and more western producers of food supplements and additives are closing down plants because they cannot compete with China. This pet food saga is only the tip of the iceberg.

Just as we have become completely dependent on foreign clothing manufacturers, we are becoming more and more at the mercy of foreign food suppliers. We already import more than 95% of our clothing(inluding shoes) from other countries and the same situation is rapidly happening to out food industry if not directly then through additives or in the example above through feeds for animals. What about the feed for dairy cattle(milk, cheese, etc.) and chickens(meat and eggs) or even farm raised fish. If you happen to have a package of tuna on the shelf at home you might note that it too is coming from Thailand or somewhere similar. I shop for food primarily at Whole Foods where they typically identify the source and it is not my imagination that more and more it is coming from South America or Asia. You want to talk about a target for terrorism just visit your local grocery.

Just to get back on track with this contaminated pork thing. Just because the hogs that are reported to have been contaminated are isolated in five states doesn't mean that meat from those animals won't, hasn't or can't reach your dinner table. The companies that distribute foods nationally can get their meat from anywhere in the world and sell it at your local grocery and you will never know where that meat came from unless there is a problem identified after the fact.

This is ugly and will get uglier trust me on that. We are at high risk and there is no one doing anything about it.

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