The economic downturn and the reportage of food activists about the hazards associated with factory produced foods have raised our awareness to both the benefits of growing our own produce and the questionable conditions under which store-bought foods may be processed. While suburban and urban 'farmers' are battling municipalities for the right to raise egg layers and to grow vegetables as they wish on their own property, we are reminded in not-so-gentle fashion of the dangers that line supermarket shelves. A release today by national safety expert Nancy Harvey Steorts outlines some of the findings of FDA inspectors at some of the egg farms linked to the recent salmonella outbreak.
The release in full here:
"In a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday, the heads of the egg farms linked to over 1,600 cases of salmonella across the country were questioned as details of conditions found by FDA inspectors at these facilities were revealed to shocked members of Congress.
Inspectors found both live and dead rodents, flies and maggots, dead and rotting chickens, liquid manure leaking from buildings, standing water, and piles of manure in the hen houses. Some piles of chicken manure reached 8 feet high and in some cases the large amounts of manure on the ground in some buildings prevented the doors from closing.
As the former Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Hon. Nancy Harvey Steortssays that it is time for consumers to take action and stop buying eggs until these horrible practices by egg producers are stopped, and the industry can prove that eggs are safe to consume. Steorts also advocates for a well-funded, separate, independent agency with strong authority to be focused solely on food safety.
Invite Steorts to reveal solutions to this problem:
- Supermarkets must not buy eggs from these corruptible producers and should inform their customers where their eggs are produced and how.
- Federal, state, and local authorities must go after these bad actors to clean up or be shut down.
- Accredited 3rd party certification must be put in place immediately.
- Consumers must demand a safe food supply and must be able to rely on the industry and government to produce safe food."
While I am more of a "free market, less government" guy, it's tough to argue that a consumer can determine the sanitary practices of the farmer just by looking at a cleaned up supermarket egg. But I cannot easily accept the idea that we need another federal agency to focus on food safety. Isn't that the job of the FDA?
I believe that we need to get our federal, state, and local governments on the same page when it comes to consumer awareness and the freedom to enjoy our property to produce our own food. We have the power to lobby our municipalities for the right to raise backyard chickens for egg laying (as long as it doesn't create hazardous conditions for our neighbors), community gardening projects, and to set aside space for more farm markets. We could also put pressure on our commercial food markets to closely monitor the sanitary conditions of their wholesale growers and suppliers.
Rather than establishing a new food safety organization, our leaders in the federal government should investigate what is holding back the FDA from enforcing existing food safety regulations, and correct those problems. An efficient FDA would be much easier on the taxpayers than throwing more money at the issues with a new agency.