Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peanut Butter Off The Menu, Off The Market?

Before I turned my computer off last night, this was CNN's hot story:

Peanut Butter.

This shouldn't have happened again. How is it that the peanut output from one plant can sicken upwards of 15,000 people in 43 states without sufficient oversight? Take 6 lives? Cause thousands of people to question the safety of the foods in their kitchen, on store shelves, being served to them in hospitals, schools, and restaurants?

Why didn't the FDA take steps to avoid this after the similar incident with Peter Pan peanut butter in 2007? Why didn't the FDA recall these foods after they discovered the source of contamination?

I know the answer to those last questions. As the CNN article said:
"The FDA does not have the authority to order a recall of products. It has to rely on companies doing so voluntarily. Congress would have to pass a law to give the FDA such power."
In fact, the FDA requested recall authority from Congress in November 2007, in their "Food Protection Plan." Congress, under the influence of the Bush administration, decided not to grant them that authority, and failed to fund additional food safety measures spelled out in the Food Protection Plan.

For as much as I fault the Peanut Corporation of America and their reckless, bottom-line-driven manufacturing practices, I fault Congress for not supporting and funding food safety regulation in this country.

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