Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Salmonella Threat Results in Food Recalls, Presidential Review of FDA

Gluten Free Cafe Asian Noodles are part of a precautionary recall by the Hains Celestial Group due to current concerns over salmonella in peanut products; see here for more information.

Out of similar concerns, General Mills voluntarily recalled the peanut-butter cookie flavor of Lärabars, which are all gluten-free. See here for more information.

As you can see here, many other foods have been recalled due to recent salmonella contamination in peanut products, which has resulted in eight deaths and hundreds of illnesses. The recalls are of historic proportions.

The business that seems to be at the source of the contamination is Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). According to USA Today,
The government...accused the peanut butter manufacturer Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) of shipping products in 2007 and 2008 after internal tests found bacterial contamination, violating food safety regulations.

The company's actions "can only be described as reprehensible and criminal," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who oversees Food and Drug Administration funding. "Not only did this company knowingly sell tainted products, it shopped for a laboratory that would provide the acceptable results they were seeking. This behavior represents the worst of our current food safety regulatory system."
The alleged misbehavior of PCA reminds me of the poor practices of Wellshire Farms, which has repeatedly released food mislabeled as gluten-free and failed to have them removed from store shelves.

There are probably many responsible food producers who can self-govern and refrain from selling toxic or dangerously mislabeled foods. But the above examples indicate that there are others who seem unconcerned that sickness and even death can result from their irresponsibility. People on medical diets can try to limit risks by avoiding processed foods, but otherwise the only answer to malfeasance seems to be stricter food regulation.

In response to the salmonella scare, President Obama heeded the calls of food safety advocates in ordering a review of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
I hope that this review will consider issues such as gluten contamination and extend to the USDA and other agencies involved in evaluating food safety.

Here is an AP video segment on the story.

Source (1:28)

No comments: