Recalls stampede through the media. With many of our products coming from all over the world and corporations caring more about quantity than quality, inferior products can cause health problems for a massive number of consumers.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser was published in 2001. Since then, at least 1.4 million copies have been sold, making it a New York Times bestseller. In 2006, a fictionalized movie adaptation was released. In both of these media formats, readers and viewers learned about corporations’ mistreatment of their employees and how the food they produce is garbage. “There is shit in the meat” is one of the most jarring lines from the film, but it also shows how our agricultural culture has changed from small farmers to large factories that often take short cuts to make the process cheaper. In 2004, Morgan Spurlock released the documentary Super Size Me, emphasizing how bad the food is that Americans consume regularly.
I thought that people would be so disgusted and revolted by this fresh perspective that they would stop going to huge conglomerate fast food chains. In response, McDonalds sold cheap pedometers that didn’t work correctly and “nutritional” alternatives like apples. Yet today, McDonalds is making more money than ever. People continue to consume food that has been shown to be contaminated and bad for the human body.
In the last 20 years, according to salmonella.org, salmonella has become the most common cause of food poisoning in the Untied States. It has caused many deaths in those years that probably would have been avoided if dairy, meat and poultry farms were more sanitary. Chickens, crammed in tiny cages and living in their own excrement are the most common sources of the bacteria. On Oct. 12 there were eight reported cases of salmonella poisoning stemming from Banquet and other store brand pot pies. A recall was issued for all ConAgra pot pies. Salmonella poisoning can cause diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain and vomiting.
ConAgra, which Schlosser wrote about being one of the worst companies, has a variety of brands that range from Banquet to Swiss Miss to Peter Pan peanut butter. ConAgra also owns popcorn brands Jiffy Pop and Orville Redenbacher’s. In the Oct. 1 issue of People magazine there was an article showing the possible health dangers of microwave popcorn. The popcorn contains an additive called diacetyl, which gives popcorn its buttery flavor. Diacetyl has caused bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung) in factory workers and consumers that have breathed in the fumes. It can cause scarring of the lung, inflammation of the lung, dry cough, shortness of breath and diminished lung capacity.
Is no food safe? Last autumn a spinach scare abounded because of corporations in California that had a salmonella outbreak, which negatively impacted local small farmers because it was harder for them to sell their spinach, even though it was sanitary. The website www.recalls.gov lists a surprising number of recent food recalls from “top” food brands such as Kraft, Campbell and Dole. There are too many recalls for the mass media to keep up with.
A MSN July 2007 poll of 1004 telephone calls showed that 92 percent of people wanted to have country of origin labels on all foods. Yet, this important step doesn’t appear to be realistic in the near future. Congress enacted a meat-labeling requirement in a 2002 law, but the twice-delayed start date won’t be enforced until 2008.
People have a right to know where their food is coming from, especially with the recent amount of recalls from China.
Buy local products whose manufacturers care more about quality than quantity. Fully cook meat, poultry and eggs to kill any salmonella bacteria. Wash your fresh vegetables. Check the recall list and be wary of foods that are overly processed.