April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

Why Occupy Food Safety?

Foodborne illness is not a new concern.  Consumers, Government and Industry have been working to eradicate foodborne illness in the United States since Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle revealed rampant contamination in the nation’s food supply and thrust food safety onto the national scene. And yet, pathogens continue to crop up in our food supply, sickening an estimated 48 million people per year, according to recently updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And these bugs don’t just land people on the toilet for a few days. Of those sickened, 128,000 are hospitalized each year and 3,000 don’t survive.

One example of a life taken by foodborne illness was 7-year-old Abigail Fenstermaker, who died in May of 2009 of complications from an E. coli infection picked up from her grandfather when he ate contaminated ground beef sold by Valley Meats. Abby suffered kidney failure due to her E. coli infection and died of a stroke a week later. Her grandfather died of complications from his illness the following year.

In 2011 alone, 36 people died as a result of eating Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe.

Not only are foodborne illnesses tragic; they are costly too. According to the Journal of Food Protection illnesses from food poisoning pose a $77.7 billion economic burden in the United States annually.    That’s about the equivalent of what government spends on national intelligence each year. While agencies such as the CIA and FBI work to protect people from foreign and domestic threats, preventable foodborne diseases leak the same amount spent on these programs from the economy.

Join us in pushing for a safer food supply so that the next time CDC updates its foodborne illness statistics, there will be fewer to report.