Tuesday, February 24, 2009

87 million stricken with food poisoning in US each year

This is not okay. Our food needs to be safer. Food poisoning shouldn't be making headlines in this day-and-age. Food poisoning shouldn't be killing 5,700 people each year. (AP)

Back in 2006, after a string of fast food-related poisonings and people dying from tainted spinach, Pound360 wondered if food poisoning wasn't the "
story of the year." That was three years ago. Last year, we had the tomatoes tainted with salmonella that sickened 1,400. Following that incident, CNN's Lou Dobbs famously called for the impeachment of George Bush.

If you missed it, he said, “for [the Bush Administration] to leave the FDA in this state, its leadership in this sorry condition and to have no capacity apparently or will to protect the American consumer – that is alone to me sufficient reason to impeach a president.”

After that, there was the recent peanut butter madness, which hit at least 640 people and killed nine.


Is Pound360 the only one that thinks, every year, we live in a progressively more third-world country?

Well, according to the facts, we're doing okay. According to the World Health Organization, just 30 percent people in industrialized nations come down with food poisoning each year (compared to 25 percent in the States). "The U.S. food supply is still considered one of the safest in the world," notes the AP.

But it could be safer. So we're still mad.

Visiting NPR's Science Friday,
a former FDA associate commissioner explained, "we have taken apart the FDA… to the point that it can not protect us."

In the 1970's, we had 70,000 food processors, and an FDA staff capable of 35,000 inspections. Now, there are 150,000 food processors, but just enough staff to do 7,000 inspections per year.


(image by
B Tal via Flickr)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.