Robhigh Essay, Research Paper
Food Safety: Is It Controllable ? With America consuming amassing amounts of food, the food safety laws in affect will not be enough to keep Americans happy. At a Jack in the Box restaurant in Tacoma, Washington, on January 11, 1993, a young boy by the name of Michael Nole ate what seemed to be a harmless cheeseburger. A day later, Michael came down with a bad case of diarrhea and stomach cramps. At a Seattle hospital, ten days later, Michael was pronounced dead due to heart and kidney failure. This unfortunate accident began to raise questions about the food safety in America. Could America have a food safety problem? In 1985 the midwest was shocked when 200,000 people became ill after drinking milk that had been contaminated by salmonella typhimurium. In another more horrifying instance, a rare bacteria, listeria monocytogens, was responsible for 47 deaths when it was found in a Mexican type soft cheese (Cooper 483). These cases only account for a very, very small amount of the cases reported each year. Some researchers state that over 9,000 people are reported dead due to food contamination(Castellands 1; Cooper 483; Summer Food 92). While others feel that it is slightly less than that putting it at only 7,000 deaths a year (Puzo 2). Even with these outrageous numbers, expertsbelieve that only five percent of all smaller cases of food contamination are reported ortaken care of by a professional. More and more reports of food contamination are appearingand this is causing Americans to see that something needs to be done about this problem thatis plaguing the American food supply. An increase in contamination found in chicken and chicken products has caused a shift in concern, from the meat industry to the poultry industry. The most common contamination found in chickens is a bacteria called salmonella(Rogers 3).Not only can salmonella be found in chickens, but it also can be found in raw eggs andimproperly handled meat and dairy products(Silberner food 63; safety 92). According to theCenter for Disease Control (CDC) 2.5 million people suffer with stomach cramps, vomiting &diarrhea because of salmonella, each year. It is also estimated that from around 500 to3,000 deaths are due to the deadly bacteria(Silberner 63; summer food 92). In 1989,infections caused by salmonella found in eggs only accounted for 6% of all the totalsalmonella cases. In later 1994, the egg-borne salmonella increased to over 48% of allcases. Eggs become contaminated from the mother chicken who eats feed that containssalmonella. This feed is made from ground chicken byproducts such as intestines, feet,heads or bone. The ground byproducts are then mixed with feed and fed to chickens(Rogers3). Salmonella found in carcasses occurs during the slaughtering process(Patrick 584).Because chickens eat each others droppings, the bacteria is easily spread through a largegroup(McAuliff 1). With bacteria easily spread, new laws are needed to lower this spread. The bacteria is found in the animals feces and during slaughter, the intestines can be split open and bacteria is spread throughout the carcass(Patrick 554). Under the new Clinton administration, promises have been made for changes in the prevention of contamination from occurring. Mike Espy, agriculture secretary, asked Congress to provide funds for 200 new meat andpoultry inspectors. Espy also asked for funds for a new system that aims at preventing contamination at vulnerable points during production(Cooper 485).Some of the symptoms that may point to salmonella bacteria include diarrhea, fever andabdominal pain lasting five to seven days. Salmonella found in infants and the elderly mayeven lead to death(Rogers 3). Salmonella is a growing problem, but is not the onlycontamination concern. A new growing concern in food safety is due to a strain of Escheriechia Coli (E.Coli), or better known as 0157:H7(Laliberte 31). E.Coli, is found in beef, cheese and Mexican foods(Cooper 487). E.Coli is found in cattle fecal matter, where it lives and spreads. During the slaughtering process, the intestines, which hold fecal matter, are cut and the bacteria comes in contact with the rest of the animal’s carcass(Grogen 50; Laliberte 31). According to the Center for Disease Control, 0157:H7 causes 15,000 to 20,000 illnesses a year. E.Coli is also responsible for 250 to 300 deaths a year(Food safety 92; Laliberte 31). Half of the 300 dead are 15 years of age or younger(Laliberte 31). Side effects of E.Coli are a good reminder to see a doctor for a check up. After just a few days of intake, even small amounts can cause cramps, bloody diarrhea and a condition known as hemolyric uremic syndrome (HUS) which could lead to kidney failure, damage to the brain, stroke and sometimes death(Laliberte 31). Following a large epidemic of E.Coli found in the Jack in the Box food chain, Mike Espy, agriculture secretary for the Clinton administration, announced a new proposal for prevention. First the system would improve the current system by incorporating new scientific techniques to detect E.Coli, in much shorter times than the current systems induces. He also wanted 550 new employees to fill the vacancies in the food Safety and Inspection service 7,400 man strong crew(Cooper 495). The Agriculture Department introduceda program that would use advanced scientific techniques that would detect and eliminatethreats to food safety during the production process, from the farmer to the consumer.Although over half the people agree with the new proposal, the plan has a few obstacles inthe way of introduction. With a cost of over five billion dollars the first year ofintroduction, and seven billion for the years after, gives the plane its faults. Expertshave doubts about the plan’s efficiency due to the extreme cost(Cooper 499). Contamination in seafood can occur in many different stages of a dead fish. Contamination can occur when human and animal feces come in contact with the fish; for example, when workers forget to wash their hands after using the restroom or when fish come in contact with contaminated surfaces. Even with these areas in mind, most contamination occurs during the selling of the product. When non-contaminated fish are stacked on contaminated fish, the contamination spreads. Contamination also spreads when fish are kept in display cases that are not cooled according to standards so that the bacteria cannot thrive(Roman 1). Pesticides are also a problem in freshwater seafood products. Dangerous chemicals produced by industry are making their way to fish who consume the harmful toxins. After an outbreak in Japan, that caused 120 people to become ill, the United States began setting limits for mercury and other toxin levels that can be found in fish. Seafood contamination has not always been a watched industry. In 1988 the only regular Federal inspection of seafood was a voluntary program run by the National Marine Fisheries service. This was because contaminated seafood was not a big problem like it is growing to today. Opposers to this arrangement noted that during its most productive year, it only tested 13% of all seafood consumed by Americans. Another plan was introduced in 1988. It called for the certification of inspectors of vessels to make sure that sanitation and food storage is at its best, standards for microbial and chemical residues, with an upgrade in sampling and a record keeping system that would allow inspectors to check on earlier contamination areas, state requirement and minimum standards, strict handling requirements during processing . the inspection of all imported seafood, and public education on seafood safety(Patrick 590).
A new, more recent attempt to contain contamination in seafood, is a plan called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. This plan calls for close watch in critical points of production that might be possible points that produce contamination(Cooper 496; Food Safety 92). The plan is being adopted by the nation’s six thousand seafood processors(Food Safety 92). Most concerns for contamination in seafood is becoming less worrisome, The FDA states that when sitting down to eat seafood, there is only a 1 in 250,000 chance of getting sick(Roman 1). This improvement is due to the new HACCP plan. More people are becoming increasingly aware of the risk of pesticide residues in fruits and sometimes fish. In recent test conducted by the USDA, 80% of all peaches, apples and celery tested contained residues of one or more pesticides. Apples alone contained residues of 21 different chemicals (Laliberte 30). Symptoms of ingestion of pesticides include vomiting, diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In more serious cases victims may experience paralysis,double vision and trouble breathing and swallowing (Food Safety 90). while some symptoms mayoccur within four to 48 hours after ingestion, it can also cause problems with the futuregenerations (Laliberte 30). In late 1988 a company by the name of NutriClean set up a monitoring system of produce as it gets unloaded at the supermarket docks. The company also set up a plan that would provide residue free produce to consumers. This is done by signing farmers on a contract that states that they will use no pesticides during the growing of their product. during the harvest season the company conducts test on the produce. If the test show no pesticides are present, the product is stamped and sold as a residue free product (Patrick 587). In 1959 due to public concern over pesticides and food safety, the FDA started testing 234 food items for pesticide residues. The FDA also set maximum levels for dangerous contents found in food. In 1954 more protection was called on after the 1954 Food, Drug and Cosmetic act was passed. Not only are concerns for pesticides present in fruits and vegetables, but they are also present in fish. this is believed to be caused by residue runoff which finds it s way to water. In 1980 the FDA found that 70% of imported fish had illegal amounts of toxic substances (Cooper 491).In a recent survey the public ranked pesticide residues as its major food concern (Silberner 62). Even with this in mind the problem is not addressed as heavily as it should be. The overwhelming facts still remain a big convincer that our system for food safety has failed. The system is suffering from plans that do not address the contamination problem but only temporarily cover it up. The Center for Disease Control estimates that “6,496,000 Americans fall ill from diseases each year. Ofthose, an estimated 9,100 die each year” (Cooper 493). In 1988 a chart was released byMarchall G. Patrick, which put the showed these food-borne outbreak numbers. Beef and vealwere responsible for 308 total outbreaks in the US betweenb1974 and 1985. Pork, ham andsausage was the enemy in 287 outbreaks, chicken had 98, turkey 129, fish 374, shellfish 180dairy products 107 mixed foods and eggs 1,509 and unknown sources caused 2,926 outbreaks(Patrick 583). Today statistics remain pretty much the same, only with much larger numbers. Unknown sources are responsible for 47% of all food-borne illness. Seafood is next at 20%,than beef at nine percent, next is poultry, pork and produce at seven percent, milk at threepercent and produce at one percent (Cooper 486). One of the main problems with food safety is that contamination is so wide spread, it is hard to predict where it will occur. Contamination of food can occur just about anywhere during the foods production-consumption life. Eggs for example become contaminated when the mother hen has the bacteria present in the ovaries. Other contamination can occur during slaughter. Bacteria lives in the fecal matter of cattle and poultry, when the animal is slaughtered the intestines may become split which causes the bacteria to spread throughout the carcass (Patrick 585). Unless the carcass is properly cleaned with a diluted bleach the bacteria will thrive until it is cooked out by high temperatures (Food Safety 92). Cross contamination is another form of food contamination. Cross contamination can occur in many places of production. The most common place is the production lines. These lines of production go so fast that controlling crosscontamination would be virtually impossible. Cross contamination also occurs as a resultfrom mixed meats that are canned and shipped under improper temperatures (Patrick 583). As new contaminates are on the rise, so must the rise in protection of our food supply. New plans are being both obtained and let go by industries and agencies. one such program called the Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit act of 1995would require new regulations to be subject to extensive riskassessment, cost benefited analysis and peer review panels. The risk bill requires the EPAto base its decisions on whether the chemical cost of use, is more than the cost of theactual hazard. Under this program substances that have little risk in food as long as thecost benefits the producer. Critics believe that the new plan will delay any attempts touse enforcement actions (Washington 1). In an effort to modernize the nations meat and poultry inspection system, the agriculture department increases the responsibilities required of the slaughter and processing companies (Puzo H-2). The new plan, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), calls for the analysis of possible hazard points. These points are than watched, in the form of notes, careful and reported to any food protection agency (FDA 2; Major 2; Puzo H-2; Sugarman A-1). Earlyestimates of the newly proposed plan state that the cost of HACCP would range from between$730 million to $733.5 million in its early years of introduction (Lee A19; Puzo H-2 ). Researchers believe that after its third year in activation the cost will decrease from $730million to around $231 million (Sugarman A1). To insure success of the plan, a increase inthe price of meat is expected. Researchers believe that a two tenths of a cent per poundwould be plenty to keep the program running (Lee A19). After many months of arguing for approval, the plan is expected to becomplete by late 1995 (Puzo H-2). Even with these present systems at work the food industry is still producing contaminated food. Most researchers all agree that there are ways to make food totally free of all contaminates, but the cost is just too much for the American people. Consumers can also prevent possible contamination. During cooking of meats and poultry the food should be cooked well done, when handling raw meat wash your hands and all utensils after using them and insure the holding temperature is between 34 to 40 degrees (Cooper 492). The Final Conclusion in the matter seems to be the overwhelming amount of cases and just not enough protection. Increasing the number of inspections by the FDA and the USDA and increasing the time spent at the inspection sights will cost more money but seems to be a part of the solution. This icnrease will have to be passed on to the consumers. Increasing the education of food safety to consumers and industries is most important. I think that any extra money spent should go to research to detect contaminations at the industry level. These efforts may help decrease the number of people being contaminated by foods each and ever year in America