I have it on good authority (theirs) that we can trust Big Ag to deliver the safest food on the planet. In fact, certain politicians are so convinced of it they do things like cut funding to food safety regulators.
Having been on both sides of the producer fence — as a small-scale farmer and as an urban patron of farmers’ markets — I can honestly say neither I nor any of my former customers was ever poisoned by anything I sold or bought.
The big guys cannot make that claim. When they sell something tainted, they spread it widely and quickly. Cargill’s salmonella-infected ground turkey is just the latest example.
36 million pounds of ground turkey recalled
The meat came from Cargill’s Springdale, Arkansas, plant. The company is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey, in one of the largest such actions on record. According to ABC News, the “last time Cargill’s Springdale plant was tested was in 2010 — when three instances of Salmonella Heidelberg were found after a series of tests.”
The outbreak (here’s a CDC map of its distribution) is evidence that what the health community has feared so long has happened. After pumping livestock full of antibiotics for years to try to control the inevitable disease vectors that are a by-product of factory farming, overuse of antibiotics has led to Salmonella Heidelberg, an antibiotic-resistant strain of a deadly disease.
At this point, 78 people in 26 states have been infected. Compared with previous outbreaks, a larger number of those sickened by the salmonella have required hospitalization. One person in California has died.
Statements question government oversight
After what she termed a “confusing timeline” presented by the Centers for Disease Control and the USDA’s Food and Safety Inspection Service, Caroline Smith DeWall (Center for Science in the Public Interest Food Safety Director) issued a statement calling for a review of the government’s handling of the outbreak.
Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch also issued a statement. It read in part: “Until the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production stops, consumers will be faced with the additional threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
This Associated Press video coverage gives the two simplest tips for avoiding infection: cook meat to 165 degrees, and wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling it.
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