Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can legislation solve the egg problem?

Some people think that creating more rules for the factory farms can help reduce (or eliminate?) food-borne illness outbreaks. This recent NPR story supports that premise. Can the FDA really solve the problem? I'm not so sure. I mean, they still think it's fine for BPA to be in contact with (and IN) our food and throughout our environment, even though there is evidence that it is not completely safe.

The FDA seems to always be behind the curve. Only this year did they admit that BPA might be "of concern". Come on, people have been talking about the dangers of BPA for years!

This is not how factory farmers gather their eggs :)
Image credit: woodleywonderworks

So, back to the original question, can the FDA, or any other government agency, prevent food-borne illness? Is this a realistic goal?


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I think the USDA and FDA can do much more to minimize risk, but no, I don't believe they can eliminate it. It's too easy in concentrated farming operations for diseases to spread faster than we can pin-point the origin. I believe the onus is on us, as individuals, to also do our part to ensure that the food we eat is as safe as possible. It's imperative that we cook our food properly. I think outbreaks like this also point to the fact that many aren't doing that, at least in regards to meat and poultry products. I admit, E. coli in lettuce is a tough one...nobody wants to cook their lettuce first! :P

Terra said...

You make good points here. One thing I do is to only buy cage free eggs. Those mega farms and their cruelty sound like ideal breeding grounds for disease.

Stefaneener said...

Not without simultaneous jumps in funding (massive jumps) and freedom for the scientists in charge. It's not the FDA that's not looking at the science, it's the bosses who won't let the knowledge be passed around.

Jackie said...

Hmmm...E. coli in lettuce...I've heard that "they" might try to irradiate lettuce somehow. No thanks.

Terra, yes, cage free might help your chances, but I've heard that even "cage free" hens still live all of their lives inside big chicken houses all crammed in together., freedom of information, huh? Yeah, that's an important part of this, but it's a tough nut to crack.

Angela said...

If that tainted egg producer had actually followed FDA regulations as opposed to repeatedly violating them, would this outbreak have occurred?

A scientifically guided FDA should certainly be able to issue regulations that guide well meaning producers towards beneficial agricultural practices and that help prosecute violators. Now, if there is no political will to actually prioritize public good over industry interests, you cannot expect much from any government agency.