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Food Recalls

It’s a new world we live in. In recent years, public recognition of the importance of food safety has grown and is being fed by the media and our federal government. Perhaps this is because we all need to eat to live; perhaps this is because of the movement toward more organic food and healthy foods; or perhaps it is because we have the technology now to digest complicated facts and determine the genetic make-up of various strains of E. coli, linking them to the source. Whatever the reason, promoting healthy food processing is a good thing.

At any rate, food recalls are often most important for the elderly and young. Those two groups traditionally have weaker immune systems than the rest of us, and salmonella or E. coli can have a disastrous and frequently deadly effect. (For the rest of us, eating tainted food may result in a few days or weeks of terrible stomach pain, and sometimes hospitalizations). We’ve been learning these lessons on a regular basis in the past few years—lettuce, spinach, hamburger, peppers, peanuts, peanut butter, pistachios, and pot pies are the teachers.

With the media regularly focused on tainted food products, the legislature is moving to take action. A U.S. House panel recently approved giving the FDA the power to order food recalls. Though the FDA is overworked and understaffed, this is a step in the right direction. Of course, the primary responsibility must fall on the agricultural industry to educate itself, police itself, and protect the public.

Of course, the Drug Recall Lawyer Blog, by its very title, does not include the word “food.” So, we won’t regularly post on this issue. But, the FDA regulates food and drugs, so there’s a connection here. And, drug manufacturers can learn a lesson from how the agriculture industry reacts to issues of contamination—often by immediately segregating potentially contaminated products despite the cost (and, farmers have more to lose than the CEOs and stockholders of drug companies). That really tells you the value of human life.