Thursday, April 28, 2011
THE BIGGEST THREAT IN THE U.S. FOOD SUPPLY
Really, I am not trying to evade the question, but the only answer I can give is "It depends." It depends on the specific food involved, on who you are (some kinds of people are more vulnerable to one kind of contaminant, some to another), and on whether we are talking about short term risks or longer term ones.
Mostly, what we hear about in the news, and what we tend to think about as food contaminants, are those microbes such as E.coli 0157:H7, Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Listeria monocytogenes which can give us a violent bout of illness (usually diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, weakness). Very nasty, but in the majority of cases, this kind of "food poisoning" will be over in a few days. Unless, of course, you are unlucky enough to be among the 2% or so of people who end up with a chronic health condition as a result.
Then there are those hazards in food which can threaten our long-term health and happiness - increasing our chances of certain cancers, damage our body organs, or give us milder, but still irritating problems such as skin rashes or degenerative conditions.
So which are the biggest threats? It depends on your point of view. If you are a professional performer or an athlete, who needs to be at their peak tomorrow, or the next day, you will naturally be more concerned about bacteria and viruses. If you are thinking long-term health, you may want to think more about drug residues and chemicals in your food.