published Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Salmonella Side Up

about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

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rolando said...

What?? I'm first?

Good, on topic cartoon, Clay.

Don't know how much discussion you will generate, though. Maybe me being first will do something, ya think?

Is there a deregulation involved? I thought plenty of violations were found through fed oversight but no real punishment.

August 25, 2010 at 12:43 a.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

I watched John Stossel tonight and his libertarian response towards deregualation was, "Yeah some people my get hurt in the begining, but when words gets out they will not be in business long." I wonder how he would feel if that someone was him or one of his children. This is a beautiful country, let's keep it that way.

August 25, 2010 at 1:34 a.m.
alprova said...

Let's face a simple fact or two. I don't mean to be crude, but when you're talking about a food product that is shot out like a cannon from an orifice that is shared with fecal elimination, every now and then, there's gonna be a problem.

There is no such thing as a chicken farm that is 100% safe from any number of infectious conditions that could sicken any of us. The same holds true for any animal product that we consume.

No amount of regulation, nor deregulation is going to make every egg produced, safe from Salmonella poisoning. It's going to happen. Eat your eggs half cooked, and you run the risk as much risk of food poisoning, as you do if you were to order a pork chop to be delivered to your table cooked rare.

Wash your eggs before you crack them open, cook them thoroughly, and you run virtually no risk at all of becoming sick. That has been the advice and recommendation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for most of the past two decades.

Isn't it about time that people heed that advice and recommendation?

August 25, 2010 at 2:14 a.m.
dougmusn said...

Chickens and other livestock are much more likely to carry significant animal and human disease because of the widespread use of prophylactic antibiotics in animal feed. (That's when a 'farmer' gives his flock/herd antibiotics as a growth promoter with no evidence of sickness.) This 'just because' use of antibiotics encourages the development of multiply drug resistant superbugs (including Salmonella) and can sicken us all. Factory farms may save us a small amount on food prices but we pay for it with our health and sometimes with our lives. Ask your Congressman why PAMTA remains bottled up in Congress... -- PAMTA was introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY 28th). She is the only microbiologist in Congress... -- "On March 17, 2009, Rep. Slaughter introduced the "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act" (PAMTA) in the House of Representatives. This critical legislation is designed to ensure that we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human diseases."

August 25, 2010 at 5:35 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

first thought brain on Salmonella commercial...

August 25, 2010 at 5:35 a.m.
woody said...

Good morning Rolando..long time no argue with.

Alprova, as 'spot on' as your description was of where an eggs comes from, my stomach was strangely queazy while also at the same time asking for just a tad bit of salt, pepper, and maybe a dab of horseradish mustard to complete the picture.

And while I am at it..I wish everyone would leave my good friends Sam and Ella alone. They're a couple of really good eggs.

Now, where's my napkin, Woody

August 25, 2010 at 6:11 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

Sam and Ella's restaurant didn't make it past the drawing board.

August 25, 2010 at 6:19 a.m.
moonpie said...

Great story in the NY Times yesterday about how the Salmonella vaccine for hens in England has dropped the human infection by 97% since 1997.

The vaccine is not mandated, but the only way to get a Red Lion sticker on the carton is if the eggs are produced from vaccinated hens. Now more than 90% of egg producers do this on their own.

In the U.S. about half do this. I do think this is a problem that can be minimized without regulation, but with promotion of a vaccine and, as alprova points out, thorough cooking. (I don't like thoroughly cooked eggs, as it turns out.)

But then again, I only eat Egglands Best Eggs, whose hens are vaccinated 3x each against salmonella. Perhaps others will follow this practice.

August 25, 2010 at 6:31 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Another reason to buy local or as moonpie said the Eggland's Best Eggs. If we all knew the conditions of these big chicken farms, none of us would eat from it. They definitely need more regulation and if they are found in violation, they need to be shut down before they harm anyone.
Thousands of people die each year in our country from salmonella, in most cases, it can be prevented. Cleanliness is a must. When it comes to food, safety comes before profits.

August 25, 2010 at 6:49 a.m.
OllieH said...

Welcome back, rolando.

Now, on to the topic of the part that deregulation played in this latest food safety story.

Over the past 18 months, The Food and Drug Administration has been diligently trying to dismantle not only years of deregulation, but also underfunding and neglect. Despite the best efforts of this administration, the FDA simply does not have the resources to prevent outbreaks like this or to inspect every plant, nor do they have the authority to administer the kind of penalties that would actually force compliance, rather than the producers seeing it as the cost of doing business.

The House passed a food safety bill last summer that would have at least reversed some of these trends, but it’s been (imagine this) stalled in the Senate. Even though a tentative agreement has reportedly been reached, many see the compromise product as having little to do with 'food' or 'safety.

I hope that this egg recall might inspire some corrective measures and force the Senate to pass something more legitimate, but in the meantime, we’re still living under the rules established by Presidents who didn’t care much at all about regulation or food safety. That’s why this recall happened, and that's why more recalls should be expected.

August 25, 2010 at 6:53 a.m.
toonfan said...

rolando- good to see you back.

You're right about the DeCoster family. They have been cited for many violations. Most of their regulatory transgressions, however, have not been food safety issues.

The DeCosters have been cited for animal abuse on a chicken farm in Maine, and for the environmental impact of a hog farm in Iowa. They have been prosecuted for knowingly hiring low-skill illegal immigrants to work their farms, and have been sued for the sexual harassment (including the rape) of female workers by farm supervisors.

In every case, the DeCosters settled the case, paid a fine, and continued their operations whoever they saw fit. This outfit is obviously (pardon the pun) a bad egg, but the case does expose the problems of lax regulations, and confusing jurisdictions of the agencies that insure food safety.

Farm regulation wasn't a paramount issue in the days when farms were smaller and any harm done would be limited by that scale. But in the era of huge corporate farming, unhealthy conditions can lead to widespread risks to the population. Because of this exponential threat to our food supply, the vigorous regulation of the farming industry and the strict enforcement of those regulations is exponentially important.

August 25, 2010 at 7:29 a.m.
whoknows said...

Whether there were regulations or not, if one company screws up like this (and they will with or without government interference), their business will be hurt for awhile cause people won't trust them. But you can usually trust them to be better in the future (usually being the key word).

As Al said... it's partly our responsibility too. If you are worried, make sure to cook them thoroughly. As for me? Well, I'm headed down to the cafe right now to get me some fried eggs, sunny side up.

August 25, 2010 at 9:06 a.m.
Snooksie said...

Glad I do not eat eggs!

August 25, 2010 at 9:44 a.m.
alprova said...

Moonpie wrote: "But then again, I only eat Egglands Best Eggs, whose hens are vaccinated 3x each against salmonella. Perhaps others will follow this practice."

My wife will eat nothing but Eggland's Best, while I buy the store brands for myself.

I am still put off by the difference in price, which can sometimes be as much as $3.00 a dozen in some stores.

And despite their claims, which do appear to be valid, that they have higher standards and that their eggs are 'healthier' to eat, they still issue the same basic warnings about eating undercooked eggs.

They may be a 'healthier' egg to eat, and despite all that they do to prevent Salmonella poisoning, their eggs do not appear to be any SAFER to eat than any other eggs if they are undercooked.

The warning also appears on every Eggland's Best carton as well.

August 25, 2010 at 12:32 p.m.
alprova said...

Dougmusn wrote: "Chickens and other livestock are much more likely to carry significant animal and human disease because of the widespread use of prophylactic antibiotics in animal feed. (snipped)

I went to the CDC and read up on the subject. The CDC is also calling for a ban of antibiotics being added to animal feed, used as an additive to promote fast growth.

The practice has been banned in many countries, as there is clear evidence that the practice does indeed put us all in danger of being infected with "super bugs" that antibiotics will not touch.

Scary stuff, to say the least.

For more info:

Counter arguments against a ban? Scare tactics, such as claims that there would be food shortages and that veterinarians would be prevented from treating sick animals...weak and misleading arguments at best;

August 25, 2010 at 12:59 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Fggs are good for one thing and one thing only they make you Fart .

August 25, 2010 at 1:11 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Eggs are good for one thing and one thing only they make you Fart .

August 25, 2010 at 1:12 p.m.

Eggs are one of the the best food sources we have today... if purchased locally and properly cooked. These bad eggs are Brand X-types that are coming from profit-squeezed producers from across the country. Typically, the Wal-Mart brand products, once again.

Folks, buy local.

August 25, 2010 at 2:44 p.m.
Duford said...

The best regulation is the market response -- nothing drives bad business out and drives in market-driven safety measures like lost profits.

If you're seriously concerned about getting sick, you should either (a) be responsible and find out what brands caused this and don't buy them, or (b) don't eat eggs at all.

No need to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on investigating inherent risk.

August 25, 2010 at 7:26 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

Annual deaths in the U.S. due to:

Tobacco - 435,000 Obesity - 365,000 Auto accidents - 43,000 STDs - 20,000 Drug abuse - 17,000

Salmonella - 1,000

Maybe we ought to pay attention to the real threats? Meanwhile, soft scrambled for me!

August 25, 2010 at 10:27 p.m.
hambone said...

70 or so years ago during the other great depression people on family farms faired better than most. Now days if you have free roaming chickens in your yard animal control will come and take them and make you pay for doing away with them.

August 25, 2010 at 11:06 p.m.
Oz said...

Off Topic:

Did anyone notice the new pension plan for the school board? It must be nice to vote yourself a pension plan.

Ooltewah needs to recall Chester Bankston before he makes it to the county commission. What a guy!

August 25, 2010 at 11:23 p.m.
rolando said...

" Typically, the Wal-Mart brand products, once again. Folks, buy local."

Excellent advice, bookieT

WalMart products are all brought in from some distant packaging facility with no accountability and few, if any, of their sources listed. They purchase ONLY the cheapest products or from those that give them the biggest "return", caring little of its origin. Avoid them like the plague...and maybe you will.

August 26, 2010 at 9:26 a.m.
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