Media Food Panic

The Media, following the lead of the Public Health community, loves to create food anxiety.

Here are examples.

Up front is a story about ABC TV News going after a beef company.

And Oprah making stupid remarks about Mad Cow Disease, damaging the beef industry severely.

Then we have the destruction of the Hudson Foods on an aggressive recall of 25 million pounds of beef by the Clinton Administration Department of Agriculture. Arkansas based Hudson was in the chicken business and a big competitor of Arkansas company, Tyson. Tyson purchased family owned Hudson for a fire sale price shortly after the recall by the Department of Agriculture. Tyson was a good friend and campaign financiers of the Clinton political campaigns from the Governor to the Presidency. Probably just a coincidence.

How bout GHW Bush appointee, then Clinton Administration FDA boss David Kessler MD JD, a pediatrician, recalling 24,000 gallons of orange juice on the issue of of whether reconstituted frozen orange juice can be called “fresh?”

Read Henry Miller MD on the insanity of regulatory zealots.

Kessler was appointed FDA Commissioner by GHW Bush in 1990 then reappointed by Bill Clinton. It was under his watch that FDA enacted regulations requiring standardized Nutrition Facts labels on food. In one memorable action, he had 24,000 gallons of Citrus Hill orange juice seized because although made from concentrate, it was labeled “fresh”.

Kessler is also known for his role in the FDA’s attempt to regulate cigarettes,[4] which resulted in the FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. case. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the FDA did not have the power to enact and enforce the regulations in question.[5] He was awarded the Public Health Hero award on April 2, 2008 by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health for his work in tobacco regulation. Kessler published a book entitled A Question of Intent, which gave his view of his time at the FDA, focusing on his attempts to change tobacco legislation and the interpretation of that legislation, and his battle with the then-illegal but still used Y1 strain of tobacco.

There is a vulnerable public that can be scared by the food nannies and there is no way to assure the sterility of food supplies except canned or treated and sealed, but even treated and sealed is not foolproof. Food inspections at slaughter houses is a limited things, mostly pertaining to cleanliness. I worked at a Sausage factory when I was in college and in a grocery store with a meat market in high school, and I have been in many slaughterhouses to pick up meat. They are not surgical suites. They sure as hell are not sterile.

Understand this, irradiation of food would reduce risk significantly but too many people are scared to hear radiation.

We can improve but not perfect the safety of the food supply.

We can reduce but not eliminate the problems that occur in food processing for non canned vegetables and of course meat of all kinds.

Chicken, beef and pork processing cannot be sterile.

There is a public health campaign that is directed at food supplies with claims of thousands of lives lost from food poisoning–the numbers may be numbers exaggerated by public health officials and my experience is that occasional a food born disease cluster occurs, but rarely. Frequently the food poisoning scares are magnified by media and public health official reactions.

The e coli 0157:H7 has been identified as releasing a Shiga Toxin that causes in addition to bad bloody invasive diarrhea, in 10 percent of victims, a hemolytic (blood destruction) uremic (kidney damage even failure) syndrome that can even be lethal or permanently damaging. Children and the elderly more vulnerable.

Organically grown fruits and veggies are sometimes fertilized by human or animal manure, negligently or on puropose, with the consequences–an invitation to trouble and an argument for manufactured fertilizers. Fresh produce is a source.

Cleaning and cooking, proper refrigeration–but you know all that.

About these ads

4 responses to “Media Food Panic

  1. The mass media will always gravitate to the more sensational aspects and sources when reporting a story. It creates fear in a certain portion of the public and fear drives attention, which in turn drives advertising dollars.

  2. Humans are factorvores (as opposed to herbivores and carnivores). A factorvore is a creature that processes food before eating it. Much of our food supply is processed, and has been back before recorded history. We can have food thrown on the ground, and grub for it, eating it along with whatever dirt and such in on the ground, but that is a good way to get sick and die. That is why, traditionally, most foods are cooked, or processed in various ways, and kept up off of the floor.
    One of my personal favorites is the use of lye in foods. Why anyone would think of taking an inedible fruit, such as a fresh olive, and throw it into a vat of lye for weeks or months, I can’t even imagine. But by doing so, the inedible fresh olive is turned into an edible food. Same with acorns.
    I’m still waiting for radiation processing of foods, as a way to eliminate or reduce some of the chemicals currently used to keep our food supply safe. Looks like I shouldn’t hold my breath, though. Too many tree-huggers that are so vastly afraid of radioactivity that they have shut down all the companies that were ready to start irradiating foods. What a shame.

  3. What an interesting comment. Thanks Ms. J.

  4. The same people who are so vocally opposed to using radiation as a method of improving the safety of our food supply see no problem with sticking their food into a metal box [no metal inside please], pushing some buttons, watching the box hum for a minute or two [and maybe spin a glass plate with the food on top], and then enjoy a nice hot beverage, snack, or even full meal – oblivious to the fact that it is a form of radiation [of a different wavelength than that used for sterilization] that is causing the food to be heated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s