Is US food safe today? Yes is the answer, but we are in danger of changing that answer as we import more and more product into our nation from foreign countries. Our food is safe because our local farmers and ranchers care about their friends and neighbors as well as making a profit.
As food becomes more internationalized, safety is sometimes sacrificed for extra profits. A very clear example of this was shown a couple of years ago in pet food imported from China. Melamine a chemical used in plastic production was added to enhance the protein level of the pet foods. The problem was that Melamine has no food value, but shows up as protein in chemical tests. This is the same substance added to baby formula on the Chinese mainland that resulted in the deaths of over 300 infants, not from poisoning, but rather starvation. Imagine the mother feeding her children this formula and watching them starve to death before her eyes not knowing she was feeding the equlivant of water.
More on internationalization later, the problem here in the US is attacks on independent farmers and ranchers from all quarters. Most non-rural folks haven't a clue about the massive regulations placed on all farmers and ranchers. Most of these regulations were meant to be used to reign in huge agri-business corporations, but are now being used on small producers while the giants enjoy excemptions.
While meat inspectors are present everyday at plants in the US, in foreign countries, plants are inspected by the USDA only once a year and that inspection comes after a two week notice of the upcoming inspection. Ever wonder what happens to the meat that is recalled due to e-coli or other bacterial contamination? It is re-served to the American public. It reappears in fully cooked products ready to reheat in your oven or microwave. It is scientifically safe, but would you eat it and serve it to your family if your knew it was prepared from the recalled contaminated meat?
As a consumer, you now have the right to ask which country your food comes from. Passed in 2002, the law is finally going into effect as of September 30, 2008. Oh, but there is a new 6 month transition time to allow the meat packers time to comply. I guess six years was not long enough. Yes now you can know where your food comes from, unless you buy processed foods or eat in resturants, as food from these sources are not covered by the law.
US producers have been watching our incomes shrink due to competition from agri-economies of scale and foreign productwhile our costs of production rise not only from increased equipment, chemical, and seed costs but also cost of complying with government regulations that the non-rural sector thinks makes them safer.
These regulations do not. What keeps you safe in the US is the care and concern of your small independent producers. They set the bar to which agri-business must try to match. They can try to match it or they can elinminate the competion and redefine the standard. Guess which costs less?
Over the next few articles, the desire is to educate the average consumer in the US to the fact that their rural neighbors need their support and understanding of what we face in our efforts to provide the safest and highest quality food products in the world.