Monday, September 18, 2006

Eat Your Spinach

Now that Spinach-Gate has intensified, it appears that The FDA is still powerless to issue a recall because it doesn't know where the tainted spinach came from.

Some very brief background for those unfamiliar with the story- Basically, over 100 people have gotten sick, and at least one person has died after eating uncooked spinach contaminated with e.coli 0157h7. The problem is, even though the spinach has been traced back to several California growers through epidemiological studies, no samples tested have yet come back positive, and the exact source of the contamination has not been pinpointed.

Of course, the real shame is that any illness can be avoided by doing that thing that turned Cave Man into Civilized Man- cooking.

Obviously, we all enjoy raw food at times- fresh fruits and vegetables, sushi, and perhaps undercooked meat, but the fact of that matter is we should recognize such foods as potentially dangerous. No matter how hard you try, you can't make fresh food as safe as a deep fried Twinkie.

I just can't help but smile a bit, as you know this is such a blow to groups like The Center For Science In The Authoritarian Interest, who wants nothing more than to have us give up Twinkies for raw spinach. Their press release reminds us of the important responsibility the federal government plays in food safety, and they go on to lament the fact that responsibility for food safety is divided amongst several federal agencies.

This is one case where I think the federal government actually does play an important role- not in exorbitant preventative measures, but in quickly discovering the contamination and informing the public. Even this libertarian doesn't believe that the private sector is more efficient at limiting such outbreaks than the government. Of course, this should not be a call for more regulation, as I'm sure plenty of people will call for more regulation.

When the produce grower that is found to be the cause of the outbreak is litigated into bankruptcy, watch how quickly other produce growers adopt more stringent quality control measures on their own initiative.

So for now, boil your spinach, if you want to risk eating it at all. Yes, God is dead; he died from eating the contaminated spinach of his creation. I'll stick with that delectable creation of man, the deep fried Twinkie. No e.coli in there, no sir.


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