Lost in all the noise about the economic crisis we’re facing is that we may also be facing a crisis in our food supply. The same rationale of deregulating the financial markets appears to be impacting the oversite of our food supply as well, the chinese milk melamine tainting scandal being only the latest issue to crop up. This stuff is creeping out in the global food supply and it’s making me increasingly leery of processed foods. From numerous ground beef issues over the past couple of years, spinache, lettuce, tomatoes, and more, there’s a constant stream of news about tainted food, and with the global connectedness it’s really hard to track where this stuff turns up. What set me off about this today was news that Cadbury had to pull some of its chocolate off the market because they detected melamine in some batches of it and another vendor of creamer for coffee had to do the same. None of this particular scandal’s food has been detected in the US food supply as of yet but I’m not going to be surprised if it does, and increasingly I feel like folks are best advised to steer clear of processed foods. That frozen pizza won’t seem as convenient if it turns out the cheese was made with melamine, and that bag salad will stop seeming like a time saver if you end up ingesting ecoli because it had cow poop on it.
I should note I’m not really sure what to make of all of this. I read an analysis in the last couple of months that suggested the food supply has actually never been safer, it’s just that regional threats like ecoli outbreaks get more widely reported than in the past. At the same time though there’s overwhelming evidence that the Bush administration systematically went after regulatory systems, and it’s not clear to me what impact that had at the FDA and other government inspection and regulatory bodies that oversee the food supply. It seems better to be prudent than sick is what I guess it boils down to.
Fortunately Susan and I eat pretty danged healthy and we don’t eat all that much processed food, so here’s hoping our exposure to risk is as minimal as it seems.