The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint-Food industry needs better inspections

By John Garces/ne news editor

Recently, a widespread recall of peanut butter-based products once again caused the American public to question food industry safety.

The second such recall to involve a salmonella scare over peanut products in under a year is more widespread than the first.

Though the Food and Drug Administration has pinpointed the source of the tainted products, it still leaves many questions unanswered.

The cause of the outbreak of illnesses is salmonella typhimurium from peanut butter and peanut paste produced by Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely, Ga., processing plant, according to the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and state officials in Minnesota and Connecticut.

But the American public wonders how an outbreak this massive was not caught before it became so widespread.

According to the CDC, most people don’t even think about becoming ill from a foodborne illness until they become sick from unknowingly consuming contaminated food, and annually about 76 million cases of foodborne illness are reported, with more than 300,000 people hospitalized and 5,000 deaths resulting.

The U.S. food supply, though, is supposed to be one of the safest in the world, which makes it all the more shocking when an outbreak like this occurs.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the problem might link directly to the fact that the number of FDA food inspectors has been reduced from 3,167 in 2003 to 2,633 in 2008.

Perhaps that’s at least partially responsible for the PCA plant in question receiving no physical inspections by an FDA representative since 2001.

This shows a lack of foresight by many in the government responsible for the well-being of the people who elected them to their offices.

In 2003, when the thought of terrorists attacking us through our food and water supply was a supposed threat to our country, several new regulations were passed to tighten up the security of our food supply.

In the wake of the recent rash of tainted food outbreaks, perhaps another overhaul is in order.

The world that we live in is full of things that average Americans must think about. Wondering whether or not they will get sick from a basic jar of peanut butter shouldn’t cross their minds.

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