i just read a fascinating yet terrifying article in the new york times on food safety problems. it’s shocking and disgusting how many health issues are found during private inspections of food processing plants and then completely ignored. a stomach-churning excerpt:
“The only thing that matters is productivity,” said Robert A. LaBudde, a food safety expert who has consulted with food companies for 30 years, adding that “you only get in trouble if someone in the media traces it back to you, and that’s rare, like a meteor strike.”
Dr. LaBudde said a sausage plant hired him five years ago to determine the species of bacillus plaguing its meat. But the owner then refused to complete the testing. “I called them ‘anthrax sausages,’ and said they could be killing older people in the state, and still they wouldn’t do it,” he said, declining to name the company.
holy shit, that’s fucking horrifying. i actually recently cut industrially processed meat out of my diet for many reasons, including environmental concerns talked about in yesterday’s post on bittman. but even if you love your hot dogs and hate polar bears and rainforests, the health and safety reasons should be convincing enough for anyone to stop eating meat processed in a factory environment. because if you eat it, you might DIE. and it’s not just meat either. you’ve probably heard about people getting sick from the salmonella outbreak in peanuts recently. what you don’t know, and what the above article tells you, is that the peanut plant got a low score on their last inspection audit, but instead of doing anything about it, the company that paid for the audit – fucking AIG insurance – sold the plant insurance to cover the costs of recalling the products. does anyone else see a HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM HERE?
beyond cutting out industrially processed meat, i’m also trying not to eat processed foods in favor of local/organic/sustainable, etc. i’m lucky to live in san francisco where this is pretty easy (except for drunken incidents involving evil boxes of kraft macaroni and cheese which we shall not discuss). but i also read this nytimes article about how organic food isn’t necessarily safe either, which definitely opened my eyes a little further. michael pollan (you know how i love him) talks about ‘industrial organic’ food production in the omnivore’s dilemma and how the original notion of organic (pure, natural, traditional, farm-to-consumer, from the earth to our mouths) has changed as people attempt to replicate it on an industrial level. unfortunately, this makes organic food as equally susceptible to contamination as non-organic. yeeeeesh. so much more to this issue, but i’ve got to run and buy sexy schoolgirl outfits and fake moustaches for work. you know how we do.