USA Today reports that food recalls are up 10 per cent in the last 5 years but up 83 percent in meat and poultry Class I, the most serious "when there is a reasonable probability the food will cause health problems or death."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses each year. Without skipping a beat, the report includes the fact that one salmonella outbreak in "raw beef sickened 246 people and caused 12 million pounds of beef to be discarded." That's discarded, not repurposed.
As I am wont to do, I like to dive into these unfeeling, almost flippantly-reported numbers. What's 12 million pounds? A tractor trailer normally tops out legal weight at 50,000 pounds, so 12 million pounds is 240 tractor trailers full. Where did it go? Nobody knows. In most cases, the tainted meat is either already consumed, in which the recall is merely academic, or it's repurposed to further processing, like canned soups and pre-cooked meals. After all, cooking kills these pathogens, but they don't trust the homeowner to do that; only the big processors with temperature bells, whistles, and monitors.
Discarded is an interesting word. You and I think it means discarded, but not in the industry. It has all sorts of meanings. But let's say there's a 1 percent probably that it actually was discarded. That's enough to give 48 million people a quarter pound of beef. When you link that with the global brainwashing being launched by EAT-Lancet right now, demanding meat taxes and a reduction in domestic livestock of 90 percent, it shows that our current system carries lots of waste. Do we need all the food we're producing? Of course not. We could cut production by about half and be just fine; that's how much we waste.
The second point is that none of these recalls--not one--is from a true farm-to-fork direct marketed product. That should tell people something. Scale means something. Just like the old saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, I would say a corollary is that scale has an affect, and monstrous scale has more affect. Not only is the potential for a problem higher; if a problem occurs, it has a much longer reach.
A McDonald's hamburger contains pieces of 600 animals. A Polyface hamburger contains pieces from 1 animal. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that the contamination risk is much higher on the industrial product than the craft product. But every single response to this uptick in safety will make it more difficult for a burger like ours to reach the market place because the consumer advocacy crowd will demand "more government oversight." The scale-prejudicial regulations will make it harder for small operations to succeed and bring more sales to the big ones. That's the way it's been since the Food Safety Inspection Service was instituted by the Teddy Roosevelt to bale out the big industrial meat packers, and it's the way it'll be until Americans try liberty instead of tyranny . . . for a change. Let's make it easier for small farms to access their communities instead of harder. You cannot have big government and thriving small business; the two are completely opposite.
Which is why my biggest problem with the Make America Great Again slogan has to do with the Again at the end. How about just Make American Good Once? We didn't honor our treaties with the natives. We fought against local food with Roosevelt's capitulation to the mega-processors. We told everyone from WWII until a couple of years ago to quit using lard and butter, and use hydrogenated vegetable oil instead. We made a dead zone the size of Rhode Island in the Gulf of Mexico. We still erode enough soil to fill a train from the earth to the moon every year. And we still don't have the freedom to buy a glass of raw milk if we want it.
What is your response to the uptick in food recalls? And if you say "more government oversight," you have not been paying attention.