"Americans used to say where there's a will, there's a way. Nowadays, it's where there's a pill, there's a way out." - - Burnt Toast

Eat Me!

As I was driving to work this morning in the drizzly fog, I heard a report on NPR about the new "food safety" bill that was recently passed by our insane Congress. As someone who has worked in the foodservice industry, I feel I have some authority to comment on this latest stupidity to come out of Washington.

During the article on NPR, the reporter was joined by someone at a local food market to discuss what this "would mean" for the average consumer. They began in the produce section. . .

Naturally, little processed fresh food can be particularly dangerous, especially so with leafy green vegetable such as lettuces and greens which by their very design provide an incredible habitat for a pathogen to hide. It is very difficult to clean these without disassembling the head and washing each leaf individually as should be done after purchase. It wouldn't look very appetizing to find a heap of limp, beat up and disassembled lettuce leaves in a grocery, now would it?

As the reporter and her guest proceeded through the store they stopped at the eggs, which were responsible for rash of food borne illnesses and deaths earlier this year. It was found out that salmonella was the causation for the outbreak and the eggs were tracked back to two producers in Iowa who had never been inspected by the FDA. Whose fault is that? The producer or the government?

They further stated in the article that some 40 million cases of foodborne illnesses happen every year with a mortality rate of less than 5000. I don't remember the exact numbers they quoted, but a quick look at the Center for Disease Control website indicates there are an "estimated" 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses each year from known and unknown pathogens resulting in 5000 deaths. That equals 1 death in 15,200 cases, or put another way it equals a 0.00006579% death rate. Of course no one wants to die or lose a loved one from something that is easily preventable, but you are more likely to die doing something as seemingly innocuous as driving down the street in your car. 40,000 people per year die from that.

With all of that being said let me tell you a story. When I first moved to Costa Rica in the early 2000's imagine my surprise as a qualified chef when I first walked into a local "supermercado" to find that the eggs were stored hot and not refrigerated. They sat on the shelf in the sweltering heat in an unairconditioned building, no one seemed to give a mierda and frankly neither did I once the initial shock wore away quickly. Oftentimes, the eggs would have specks of chicken doo doo or feathers glued to the shells, but I looked around at the healthy and happy Ticos and no one seemed disturbed by it, so why should I? You were more likely to die falling from your horse after a night of drinking Guaro at the local bar than from eating a cooked egg that had been stored at room temperature.

This brings up another point. In the United States we have become so overly-addicted to our hygiene that we have managed to breed bacteria that are largely immune to even the strongest antibiotics known to man. Anti-bacterial soaps, hand-sanitizers, bathroom cleaners, wet wipes, you name it and it probably has some kind of anti-microbial property. We even have plastics with built-in germ killers. However, it you read the labels of many household cleaners that are supposedly "anti" whatever, they generally require a pre-cleaning of the surface and a 10 minute soaking time to kill bacteria. Who does that? Im sure most people see "anti" whatever on the label and it's squirt squirt, wipe wipe, hell yeah it's clean now! Well, sorry folks, but it ain't.

We live with bacteria in our daily lives whether we like it or not. The human body is home to billions of bacteria inside and out and this is the natural way of life. As long as you practice moderate hygiene and don't rub raw chicken thighs under your armpits at night before bedtime or store raw ground beef in your baby's bottle, chances are you are going to live a healthy and happy life with little trouble. The body will take care of the balance and when you get sick, well, the body will generally get the upper hand and learn something new so that the next time that bug comes along you will have a new trick up your sleeve to deal with it.

Back to my original discussion, the news article on the radio failed to mention one thing: the financial impact of this legislation. They said that part of the bill requires the creation of 18,000 new inspectors as part of the program. And furthermore, the FDA will have the power to write new rules and regulations at their discretion to suit whatever food safety fancy they may have at a particular moment. What this will all boil down to is higher food costs for you and I, not to mention a heavier tax burden to pay for thousands of new government bureaucrats to "make" food "safer". I feel safer already, don't you? No, actually, after two hours in Walmart last night realizing that inflation has already negatively impacted my food bill, I realize now that in the interest of "saving" 5000 lives per year, the government is going to slowly starve the rest of us to death via Draconian food legislation and higher prices. Such a lovely irony!

I guess no one has stopped to consider that it is governmental intervention and union organizations that have over-regulated our food supply and squeezed every last penny out of the profit margin of food producers, respectively, so that we import a large percentage of our food from place like Mexico where production farms regularly utilize raw sewage for fertilization? Coccidiosis anyone?

Furthermore, have we become so utterly inept at caring for ourselves that Big Government has to come knocking on our pocketbooks one more time in an effort to stop the deaths of 0.000065% of the total food illnesses per year? And all of this on top of Michelle Obama's salad bar in every school idea, which is sure to lead to even more illnesses. Salad bars are the proverbial "wet dream" of microbes big and small. Compound those salad bars with the large number of children who practice poor bathroom hygiene or who have parents who bathe them in anti-microbial products from daylight to dark and you are going to see outbreaks of mammoth proportions.

What will that lead to? You guessed it -- more legislation, more taxation and even higher food costs.

Life is full of risks and personally, outside of protecting this country as a whole, I don't need my government meddling in my life any more than it already does. Especially so since they have managed to spend every known dollar on the planet ten times over and continue to pound out ever-encroaching laws, taxes and social programs in an effort to exterminate death in all of its ugly forms. For me, I say hands off my undercooked French-style eggs and where the fuck is my Happy Meal toy?

Next thing you know, they will be regulating falling anvils and grand pianos, even though no one has died from that since the 1940's Bugs Bunny cartoons. But as some astute political wizards recently said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste."

Wet wipe anyone?

- Sent from my iPhone

FAIRY –   – (Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 10:58:00 AM CST)  

"As long as you practice moderate hygiene and don't rub raw chicken thighs under your armpits at night before bedtime or store raw ground beef in your baby's bottle, chances are you are going to live a healthy and happy life with little trouble." LMAO!

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