Far be it from the rancid conditions of the meatpacking industry in the era of Upton Sinclair and his novel The Jungle, but the latest outbreaks of salmonella has achieved worthwhile concern from consumers and health officials.
While the previous administration did nothing to little to restructure the current regulations on food safety, advocates of reform have faith in President Obama.
During his campaign Obama spoke on the matter:
“Far too often, tainted food is not recalled until too late. When I am president, it will not be business as usual when it comes to food safety. I will provide additional resources to hire more federal food inspectors.”
The latest incident of salmonella poisoning involves tainted peanut butter/peanut products manufactured at a Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, Ga. The company has been charged with manufacturing the peanut butter in an unsafe environment and knowingly distributing the contaminated product.
In the recent years tomatoes, jalapenos, cantaloupes and spinach have been sources of foodborne illnesses measuring in large recalls and losses in crops and revenue.
Currently several bills involving food safety reform are floating through Congress. The major items on theses bills, save for creating an entity independent of the FDA – which had been a proposal of Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin – include stricter inspections of domestic and foreign facilities, regular access to food testing and a reconstruction of the system used to detect outbreaks.
Durbin told the New York Times, “I think I can prevail on the president to take a fresh look at this. We can no longer forgive or explain what’s happening with food safety in this country.”