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Importance of knowing the source of our food

by Medindia Content Team on August 26, 2006 at 10:59 AM
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Importance of knowing the source of our food

Fred Pritzker, a food safety lawyer, writes about why it is essential for us to know about the source of our food. He says that there is a major defect in the food safety system in America. This flaw, at a minor level, inhibits people affected or even killed by contaminated food products from identifying the source of their illness. At a major level, it prevents our society from knowing the source of our food, its production and handling. It eventually, makes us susceptible to attacks by terrorists on our food supply.

According to Pritzker, if a foodborne disease outbreak occurs, consumers have a right to know where the illness causing food came from.

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Being aware of the food source is very essential for many reasons. It helps the food regulators to identify the cause and put an end to the outbreak in the initial stages itself. It helps in the study of the cause of food safety problems, its control and regulation by food scientists and sanitarians. It makes consumers know what they eat and where it comes from. Hence, consumers who fall sick because of a contaminated food product can hold accountable those who cause them harm.

This problem of food safety is a huge one. We don't make sure that the food processors and distributors keep sufficient records to allow consumers and regulators to trace the path of food products from field to table. Hence, we remain unaware of the production, shipment, handling and distribution of these products.
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This problem still continues, 5 years after the 9/11 tragedy. Suppose, a terrorist successfully contaminates a fungible food, we wont even know at which stage of production and distribution did the contamination occur. Hence, identification and prevention of such dreadful situations become very difficult.

An E.coli outbreak occurred recently in Longville, Minnesota. This left a woman dead and several injured. They had eaten ground beef at a church potluck supper. Recent reports say that the retailer and distributor who probably sold the beef was detected by the department of health of Minnesota. But there are no records with the distributor showing the source of the ground beef that was shipped to the retailer.

"It doesn't take a food scientist to know how foolish and dangerous this lack of record-keeping can be. Don't we, as consumers, have a right to know the source of the food we eat? Shouldn't we have a right to expect that the minute a dangerous food product is identified that its source can be located and inspectors can have the opportunity to inspect those premises?" says Pritzker.

"I am a food safety lawyer. I represent people injured by food products contaminated with deadly pathogens. I know how devastating these illnesses can be and what kind of impact they have on the lives of foodborne illness victims and their families."
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