Organic Consumers Association

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Meat so Cheap You Could Die

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

Thanks to the shutdown, the government is doing less to protect Americans from foodborne pathogens and deal with the aftermath of outbreaks.

The timing couldn't be worse.

Ten days after the shutdown began, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 317 people in 20 states and Puerto Rico had confirmed cases of salmonella from Foster Farms chicken. Although 42 percent of them had to be hospitalized, thankfully none had died by that point.

The CDC had to bring 30 furloughed employees in its foodborne division back to work to cope with the Foster Farms situation. The Food and Drug Administration has furloughed the majority of its 1,602 investigators.

But even under normal conditions, as the latest tainted chicken scare illustrates, food safety gets short shrift.

The first known salmonella cases from this latest bout of bad chicken occurred in March. They continued through at least late September. That means consumers bought and ate contaminated meat for at least seven months before they learned that something might be amiss.

Since it takes a few weeks to report and confirm a new case, it's likely more people will get sick than the early numbers indicated. The CDC didn't announce the discovery of this outbreak until October 7. How many people still have tainted chicken in their freezer and plan to eat it in the future? Do you?

This salmonella strain is resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. What happens when your doctor can't help you because the drugs no longer work?  
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