You know Barbara Kowalcyk, founder of The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention, from the hit documentary Food Inc. Her son tragically died from eating e.coli-tainted beef. Barbara has been making large strides towards increasing the safety of our food and was a recent recipient of The LennonOno Award for Peace. She took some time out of her busy schedule to call us from the Netherlands to talk about what’s going on with CFI, and to help us decipher S.510, the much debated Food Safety Modernization Act.
The Food Safety Modernization Act would give the FDA more power and oversight over the food system. Many have been concerned how this would effect the small farmer, and this has been alleviated somewhat by the Tester Amendment.
Others question whether the FDA has already been stepping over the limits of it’s power, indicated by increasing raids of private dairy and food clubs. These clubs are local small businesses that have nothing to do with the food-borne illness outbreaks that have occurred in this country. People seek out these private dairies and food clubs because they can’t get this same quality of food anywhere else. One farm was raided three times over the course of 18 months, all over the labeling of the farm’s goat cheese.
Most of the food-borne illness outbreaks have been the result of industrial meat or poultry production facilities. Either the meat is tainted itself or runoff from the facility taints a farmer’s field with e.coli or salmonella.
Many people don’t know that e.coli and humans have co-existed since the beginning. It was not until cattle feedlots (with the associated need for antibiotics) were introduced, that e.coli began evolving into the stronger strains that are deadly to humans.
S.510 gives more power to the FDA over initiating food recalls, but it does not propose to make any changes to those production methods causing these virulent strains of pathogens to be created. I agree that aspects of S.510 are needed, but perhaps it would be even more prudent to address the source of the problem?