IS FOOD SAFETY STRESSING YOU OUT? #TroubleWithChicken
Okay, normally I write about things that are stressing you out and how to deal with them. But my guess is that food safety is not something that is high on everyone’s list of stressors. Again, contrary to what I normally do, this time I’m going to tell you that food safety is something you actually should be a little stressed about. But not to fear… I am also going to give some tips about how to hopefully alleviate that stress! Food safety IS NOT something we should need to be stressed about in this country!
My Latest on Food Safety
A year ago I wrote a blog “Life is Stressful: Tales of Disneyland, Food Poisoning & Wild Fires,” in which I talked about my son being hospitalized for food poisoning.
Last night, the Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) documentary series FRONTLINE aired an episode that shared my son’s, and several other food poisoning victims’, stories. The episode, “The Trouble With Chicken,” watch it here http://video.pbs.org/video/2365487526/ highlighted the problem with our food safety laws in the United States: Succinctly, that they don’t protect us from being poisoned by Salmonella.
Until my son was afflicted by salmonella poisoning I thought I knew a lot about food safety. I used antibacterial soap to wash my hands in between touching meat and touching anything else; I used antibacterial cleaners and wipes on my counters and in the sink; I used a meat thermometer to make sure that all poultry was cooked to 165° – and of course I still practice all of these food safety measures! But those food safety techniques are only a small portion of the whole food safety story.
5 Important Things To Know About Food Safety
For comprehensive information on food safety you should follow the food safety stories on the NPR blog “The Salt” read it here http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt and watch the FRONTLINE episodes featuring both “The Trouble With Chicken” and the “The Trouble With Antibiotics” watch it here http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/trouble-with-antibiotics/ . But for the purposes of this blog here’s a list of the most important things (in my opinion) I’ve learned about food safety since my son’s illness:
- Cooking your meat ~ Poultry to 165° ~ will not necessarily guarantee you safe meat.
- Practicing hand washing and kitchen cleaning food safety techniques does not guarantee that you will have safe meat.
- Eating only backyard-raised or organic and/ or cage-free meats actually puts you at a higher risk for eColi and salmonella contamination than eating factory-raised meats. Because these animals are out in the open they are more prone to transfer contamination from wild critters paws and poop.
- Eating vegetarian or vegan does not protect you from food-born contamination illnesses. See above about the critters and the paws and poop.
- Sub-therapeutic antibiotics in the feed of factory-raised meat animals is highly, historically, correlated with the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of food contaminants. The strain of salmonella that infected my son, Salmonella Heidelberg, has 4 strains that are antibiotic resistant. We were lucky that AJ’s strain was one of 3 that respond to antibiotics.
Because this is a Peaceful Living blog, I’m not going to go into the even scarier details about the number of hospitalizations (and types of hospitalizations) and deaths attributed to food safety each year. Nor am I going to go into the details about the failures in the food inspection process and the underperforming of our governmental agencies. Watch the PBS episodes and read the NPR blogs for those. Or, just take my word for it, they’re out there and they are frightening.
What Is The Peaceful Living Part of This?
So why am I writing in such an alarmist fashion? The answer lies in what we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones in respect to food safety. After a year’s worth of contemplation and research I’ve only come up with one solution: Support federal legislation mandating a zero-tolerance policy for test-positive rates for salmonella Heidelberg and other food contaminants that can cause illness and death. Political action is a way to reduce stress. When one feels that they are working for an important change it gives that person a sense of satisfaction and a sense of purpose. Many of the world’s most prolific activists were/ are people who live in great peace and serenity: Mohatma Ghandi, Thich Nhat Han, The Dali Lama…
So take action! Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sponsored a bill in Congress calling for tougher food safety standards and more enforcement power for the USDA and its enforcement branch the FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service). Contact Senator Gillibrand at http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/ or follow her on twitter @SenGillibrand or Facebook.com/kirstengillibrand. AND, if you’re not a resident of New York contact your senator and ask her or him to support Senator Gillibrand’s legislation! For more on her legislation read here http://bit.ly/1Flcvh9
In Love & Peace!
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