Sunday, February 1, 2009

Food Safety as a Personal Responsibility...

On learning of the latest rash of sickness and deaths caused by more bad food recently in the US, I felt like we were relatively safe. Maybe I was even a little bit smug. After all, due in part to various wheat and dairy allergies in our family, we don't eat a lot of factory-made or packaged foods, especially products like cookies and ice cream that would have this salmonella contaminated peanut butter... I cook almost everything from scratch, and even if we do have peanut butter on hand it's always organic, lately we use more almond or sunflower seed butter anyway. We buy our beef, eggs and whatever else we can locally, and we don't eat fast, or as we name it, crap food. I think about this stuff more than anyone else I know, and I'd like to be able to think that our family's food supply is safe.

Then on Saturday, the Canadian Food Safety Association released an update on affected Canadian made food products, (before reading this, I was blissfully unaware of just how many there were already onthe list), and some of it is stuff I might buy once in a blue moon, like certain gluten free bars or cookies... I don't think I've bought any of that sort of thing for us in a while, tho I conceivably would because I trusted some of those brands, and this bothers me.

Another nasty facet of this issue is the fact that some of this bulk peanut product was shipped out from Georgia as far back as January 1st, 2007. Even without the bonus bacteria, I think it would be at best all oxidized and rancid, most likely poisoned with some toxic mold if it's a couple of years old...

There's also a company in Canada that returned a shipment of peanuts to Peanut Corp this past April because of metal fragments in it. Should that particular stuff not have been destroyed as inedible? Scary how it's all about the bottom dollar, I don't know how some people live with themselves.

According to officials, over 500 people have been sickened, and at least eight may have died because of this awful mess, and more than 430 products have been recalled so far.
Personally, if I was suffering from salmonella symptoms like diarrhea, fever, cramps, nausea, headache and vomiting, for four to seven days. (which sounds suspiciously like when I had "the flu" a while back...) I'd honestly have to be more than half dead before I actually went to the local ER, as would many folks I know, so I think these figures are likely seriously underreported.

There is a newish Govt Web site called Healthy Canadians - Your Source for a Healthier Lifestyle which allows people to search for recalled food or children's products that are unsafe, combines recall information from Health Canada and the CFIA databases, and allows searching by keyword, date, product or company name, and you can browse through product issues dating back to 1995, including some pictures to help identify problem products. Again, I am shocked at the sheer number of food recalls that I had no idea about. I'm putting my email on this list serve to receive notice when these things happen...

So... cook your own food! You can do it! I know you can... Don't ever just trust any gigantic food Corp to provide you with safe and nourishing food. Only YOU can do that. One of these days soon, I'm going to start a food blog to share how we make our healthy food taste so darn good!

Good Luck to everyone in their own food adventures, and remember; if you can't tell what it was before, then maybe you shouldn't be eating it!

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