Thursday, October 10, 2013
AVOID FOOD POISONING DURING GOVERMENT SHUTDOWN
Let's face facts: we probably now have more risky food on our store shelves and on our table. Thank you politicians!
Large numbers of federal and state food inspectors have been placed on furlough (almost half of the FDA ones who are responsible for 80% of our food - see my previous post). All over the country, fewer food plants are being inspected, less food samples are being taken, and less laboratory tests are being done for bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, or for molds, parasites, dangerous metals like lead, or unhealthy chemicals.
Imported food inspection at U.S. ports has sunk to a dangerous low - well below the usual 2%, probably closer to 0.5%. Localized reports suggest that only a very small percentage of the assigned food inspectors at U.S. ports are continuing on the job. That means more hazardous imported food coming in and ending up in our food supply.
To add to the problem, critical government food information and communication systems are either shut down or barely limping along with skeleton staff. As a result, contaminated food can be transported across state borders and sold all over the country, with nothing to stop it. There will be fewer food recalls. Stores will continue to sell hazardous food products, with no one the wiser. Less information will be available to the public on what they need to avoid.
The longer this situation continues, the worse our food supply will become.
So what do you do if you are in a high-risk group? That is, if because of age or health factors, you are more likely to become seriously ill if you eat bad food?
Here is what you may want to do, at least for the time being:
1) Eat less raw food, unless you have grown it yourself, it comes from a known reliable local farmer, or, it can peeled (e.g. bananans, apples, oranges).
2) Avoid all ready-to-eat foods (which I normally advise, anyway).
3) Cook vegetables and even fruit (which will kill bacteria and parasites).
4) Try to avoid imported foods that have come in after the government shutdown, especially foods that are frequently contaminated, such as seafood (85% of U.S. seafood is now imported, mostly from China, Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries), imported berries, imported cheeses and imported smoked salmon.
5) Avoid any processed foods that could contain ingredients that have come through U.S. ports after the shutdown.
To your good health,