Keeping Our Food Safe

What changes do we have to make to our food regulation methods to prevent future large-scale food contamination outbreaks?
by | November 17, 2010

I enjoy food. I enjoy seeing it, smelling it, eating it and digesting it (via naps). One thing I don't enjoy is worrying about if it'll make me sick. The world would truly be a better place if we could ingest anything and everything without any negative repercussions. Unfortunately, this world is not so forgiving.

This summer, a salmonella outbreak sickened over 1,000 people and caused the recall of over half a billion eggs. Just a few weeks ago, the Orval Kent Food Company recalled over 43,000 pounds of products -- ranging from pecan dip to chicken salad -- containing cilantro that may be contaminated with salmonella. Also only a few weeks ago: 25 people in five states fell victim to E. coli, allegedly from cheese sold at Costco stores across the country.

I could continue to list more delectable food-related sickness outbreaks, but that would be a bit unnecessary. (You can check out more at the FDA's website). My main point is that somewhere along the production line, food is being exposed to some pretty serious risks of contamination.

So how can we improve the regulation methods to prevent -- or at least lessen -- occurrences of large-scale food contamination outbreaks? There is a FDA Food Safety Modernization Act currently scheduled to be voted on by the Senate in the coming days. The legislation is seeking to give the Food and Drug Administration more power in the regulation of food production. Hopefully that'll help on the federal level, but some critics argue that the solution to the food contamination problem lies in local legislation. So what can states and localities do to protect residents from contaminated food? Or should they just eat what the feds feed them?

P.S. Not everything has to do with salmonella or E. coli. Sometimes frogs can magically appear inside a can of soda (warning: gross photo) and make you wonder, "How the heck?"

Andy Kim
Andy Kim | Former Staff Writer