Friday, April 24, 2009

Privatizing your food-borne illnesses

Jim Hightower, in the latest issue of the Hightower Lowdown, writes about how the government has failed the people relative to food safety.

Deluded as we are, we tend to believe that our representatives in government really care more for our well-being than for the corporations who pay to put them in office. Silly us! Nothing could be further from the truth!

Hightower explains:

"In March 2008, the official inspector's report unequivocally concluded, 'The overall food safety level of this facility was considered to be: SUPERIOR.'

"The facility in question was the Peanut Corporation of America's processing plant in Georgia -- the very one that then shipped salmonella-contaminated products all across American last year, killing nine people and sickening more than 22,000.

"How could that inspector not see that a factory was alive with deadly salmonella?"

Aha. The inspection system didn't work. Here are a few of the reasons.

* Corporation honchos were told ahead of time that an inspector was coming, an inspector was coming!

* The inspector had just "one day to check a plant that handles millions of pounds of peanuts a month."

* The inspector knew nothing about peanuts. He was a fresh produce guy.

* The inspector didn't know that peanuts could contain salmonella.

* The inspector's job did not including testing for salmonella.

But...there's another problem, as Hightower points out. "...[T]he inspector doesn't work for the public. Instead, he works for a private food safety audit firm. He gets his inspection gigs by soliciting food processors directly, and the processors pay his salary. Cozy, no?"

It get worse! "More than 200 companies are in business doing safety audits for food processors. Because Washington has privatized government work and slashed federal inspection budgets, these for-profit companies now perform the bulk of America's food-safety inspections--essentially letting the processors buy a phony seal of approval."

All of this, of course, courtesy of the faith-based administration of George W. Bush and Dickie Cheney who operated at all times under the mantra that's what good for the corporate nogoodnikes who put them in office is good for the country. Who gives a damn whether a few people die?

Privatizing has been a pivot point of Repugnican platforms for a long time. They "believe" (so much of what Repugnicans do is based upon "belief" rather than reality) that private firms can do a better job than government agencies. That's the song they sing when it comes to government-provided health care (even though many of them revel in their own government-provided health care which seems to work just fine, thank you.)

Now that these snake-oil salesman have gone (at least some of them), it's time for Obama and company to make some changes.

Before more people die.

For more information, go to the Hightower Lowdown here.

1 comment:

Bob Poris said...

Another example of deregulation and not hiring or keeping enough inspectors to do the job properly. Some heads should roll but nothing much will happen until oversight becomes meaningful. In the meantime, some idiots still believe that if you are a loyal Republican, somehow you will be in good hands. So far, the only ones really benefiting have a lot more wealth, still, than most of us have.

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