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Friday, 15 February 2013

Fatal Indifference

The deadliest food-borne outbreak is apathy towards outbreaks and the causes. Not knowing the causes of outbreaks is a close second on the scale of deadliness:

An inevitable activity – eating - is increasingly becoming a risky pleasure. Food Poisoning is an indiscriminate killer and indifference towards the causes of food poisoning is fatal.

The introduction section of “The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Key Facts” includes this statement:  “The burden of food-borne illness is considerable.  Every year, 1 out of 6 people in the United States—48 million people--suffers from food-borne illness, more than a hundred thousand are hospitalized, and thousands die.” 

Food-borne Illness is no respecter of persons: 

It goes without saying that any indifference towards the hidden dangers in food is deadly for all of us. Irrespective of our economic or social status, we are all vulnerable. We may have different experiences with food borne illness outbreaks. We may even have different perspectives but we are all victims one way or another. We may be experts who are able to theoretically define food borne illness; we could be surviving victim who are able to describe it from experience; as for deceased victims, it no longer matters. Nobody goes unaffected by incidents of food borne illness.
The statistics often quoted by the FDA or CDC do not tell the whole story. It should actually be reported that everyone suffers the undesirable effects of food-borne outbreaks. Some outbreaks cause nothing more than temporary discomfort, some cause quick death, some cause lifelong chronic conditions and some slowly kill the victims.
The Boomerang Effect

Even when we have never had food poisoning, each of us bears the cost one way or another. For example, when food is withdrawn from the market because of a detected potential to cause harm, we lose its availability. Published incidences of food-borne illness outbreak force us to avoid buying the identified food and we are deprived of the enjoyment of that food. Companies suffer losses and food prices increase to burden all of us. We must not forget the tax burden that every one of us suffers because of the use of public funds in addressing health concerns relating to food-borne illness outbreaks. We are harmed one way or another even by those occurrences that are not known to us. Indeed, what we know little or nothing about can kill us but such fatality can be avoided. What is needed is a coalition of knowledgeable, experienced and determined individuals who are willing to do the job.

GCSE-Food & Health Protection is providing an avenue for such gathering of the forces. You are invited to join the effort and/or the conversation. Some may like to be observers; some may like to be active participants; some may even want to be critics; everyone is welcome: Join the Conversation.

Additional References:
Food Poisoning's Hidden Legacy - By Maryn McKenna

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Key Facts

Food Safety Compromised as Global Trade Expands:

Foodborne Illness: Implications for the Future
Posted By Felix  Amiri

Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & HealthProtection. He is also the Director of Technical Services at Amiri Food Industry Support Services (AFISS) and the Canada/U.S representative for the World Food Safety Organisation.

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