Friday, May 7, 2010

E. coli strikes again

This time it's a different strain, E. coli O145, and the contaminated food appears to be romaine lettuce from a processing plant in Ohio, potentially affecting consumers in 24 states. The processor, Freshway Foods of Sidney, has voluntarily recalled romaine products with a "use by" date of May 12 or earlier.

I may be having a change of heart. I think maybe the ban on interstate sale of raw milk is working. How else do you explain the facts? Out of all the E. coli outbreaks reported by the CDC in the last 3.5 years, none are associated with raw milk. Instead all the outbreaks are associated with beef, produce, frozen pizza, or frozen cookie dough. All involve regionally or nationally distributed packaged foods. None involve foods sold directly by farmers to consumers.

So let's not stop with raw milk. Now it's time for Congress to step up and ban interstate sales of all packaged food unless it has been fully cooked, irradiated, and bathed in bleach. Give the FDA sweeping authority to seize the tractor-trailer loads of lettuce and ground beef that traverse our nation's highways every second. Because they have the potential of being contaminated. And because it should be the FDA, not the consumer, who decides what is an acceptable risk.

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