Food-safety scares

Eggs, cans, and history

December 2, 2011

And now, the latest in food-safety news! First up: ABC News ran a recent investigative report documenting the usual abuses (animal cruelty, rodents and insects, filthy conditions) on a poultry factory farm; the exposé (and the ongoing story) prompted McDonald’s to drop the producer in question, Sparboe Farms, as a purveyor of eggs.

Next up: a study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showing that frequent consumption of canned goods leads to extreme spikes in urinary levels of the chemical bisphenol A, better known as BPA. How much higher? More than 1,000 times.

Finally: a Seattle Times October feature taking the long view on food safety, including not just a wrap-up of the most recent food-safety scares this past summer but a recap of the E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box, way back in 1993, that got the whole modern food-safety movement started.

Why the long view? As writer Maureen O’Hagan pointed out, we’ve become so used to food-safety recalls and scary reports that we tend to ignore them:

The ground-turkey case [this past summer] was one of the largest meat recalls in history. Yet my editor confessed she didn’t even check the turkey in her freezer against the recalled batches. Meanwhile, my favorite NPR food personality, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, decided to make turkey burgers her recipe of the week, recommending the meat to thousands of email subscribers. Not only did she seem blind to the biggest news in food-dom, but the temperature she told subscribers to cook the burgers to wouldn’t kill pathogens.

The Jack in the Box disaster was supposed to be a wake-up call. Instead, we’re still snoozing.

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