Thursday, January 05, 2006

At least the profit margins are healthy

When McDonald's says food might not be fit to eat, you know it's bad.

Researchers and the nation's No. 1 burger seller say the government is not fully protecting animals or people from mad cow disease.

Stronger steps are needed to keep infection from entering the food chain for cattle, the critics wrote in comments to the Food and Drug Administration.

The group includes McDonald's Corp., seven scientists and experts and a pharmaceutical supplier, Serologicals Corp.

The government proposed new safeguards two months ago, but researchers said that effort "falls woefully short" and would continue to let cattle eat potentially infected feed, the primary way mad cow disease is spread.

"We do not feel that we can overstate the dangers from the insidious threat from these diseases and the need to control and arrest them to prevent any possibility
of spread," the researchers wrote.
So much for eating beef. But what about pork?

In a rigorous taxpayer-funded study, (Dr. James Zahn, a nationally respected microbiologist with the Agriculture Department's research service), had identified bacteria that can make people sick -- and that are resistant to antibiotics -- in the air surrounding industrial-style hog farms. His studies proved that billions of these "superbugs" were traveling across property lines daily, endangering the health of neighbors and their herds.


Zahn told me that his supervisor at the USDA, under pressure from the hog industry, had ordered him not to publish his study and that he had been forced to cancel more than a dozen public appearances at local planning boards and county health commissions seeking information about health impacts of industry mega-farms. Soon after my conference, Zahn resigned from the government in disgust.

I really hope we elect officials soon who will, you know, enforce the laws that protect our food supply, because I'd sure like to, you know, eat without getting sick.


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