I had no idea that there was another epidemic here in the US: a food safety problem, the spread of a strain of multi-drug resistant salmonella through domestic poultry. I thought the combination of CDC and USDA oversight was effective in keeping our food safe, but I guess not.
With a public health threat unfolding across the country, you might have expected federal regulators to act swiftly and decisively to warn the public, recall the contaminated poultry and compel changes at chicken plants. Or that federal investigators would pursue the root cause of the outbreak wherever the evidence led.
None of that happened.
Instead, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention closed the outbreak investigation nine months later even though people were continuing to get sick. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat and poultry, was not only powerless to act but said nothing to consumers about the growing threat. So supermarkets and restaurants continued selling chicken tainted with drug-resistant infantis.
And they continue to do so today.
An eight-month ProPublica investigation into this once rare, but now pervasive form of salmonella found that its unchecked spread through the U.S. food supply was all but inevitable, the byproduct of a baffling and largely toothless food safety system that is ill-equipped to protect consumers or rebuff industry influence.
It’s a good if rather distressing article, but I have to warn you that even without thinking about salmonella, the graphics of commercial chicken processing are…well, um, graphic. Where I live, I’m surrounded by chicken and turkey farms that look rather innocuous as we drive by — long low sheds packed full of birds hidden from sight where, apparently horrors take place. It will definitely put you off chicken.
The other night I fixed chicken tikka masala, without the chicken. We used tofu instead. I think it was a wise choice.
We vegetarians are just totally safe, except for the lettuce and Listeria and E. coli. Yeah. No worries at all.