Predictably, today's NYT has an opinion piece calling for a half-hot sauce, a command and control-style food 'tracking system', to make more safe from contamination, food produced in places that lack even clean public water. Tracking the life cycle of Jalapeños, to avoid salmonella exposure in a restaurant 2 thousand miles distant is not only logistical and financial pile on; it is a way of locking locally produced food out of the entire US market place.
Congress could relieve consumers and food producers alike with a comprehensive food-safety bill that would require a system for tracing food, better oversight of food-safety plans by producers and more authority for the F.D.A. to investigate and recall tainted products.Via:: New York Times, One Very Scary Jalapeño.
Ever take a bite of a particularly hot Jalapeño from a batch of generally mild ones? All it takes is one filthy pepper in a wash tank that has not had the chlorine level maintained and the whole batch can go buggy. Key questions: do they know that they will find that one dirty pepper before people are made ill; and, will Congress exempt US farmers and packing houses from the expensive requirements? No to both unfortunately.Instead of the high tech, expensive, command and control solution, which will take years to prove it's worth, let's encourage local truck farming as a way of creating green jobs in the USA. Greenhouses powered with waste heat from power plants can make it work in the winter. As would canning and freezing.
The better long range solution is to grow produce in the USA, where people need jobs, where drinking water is clean, and where existing standards can be cost-effectively enforced. As part of that plan, Congress would help cut the food-miles down, reduce carbon emissions, and save money on FDA inspector travel expenses.
Congress can win, win, win on this issue by both creating incentives and removing obstacles for family farms and farm markets. The main thing is to control the hazard by bringing production back into the US risk management envelope. Increased shipping costs due to high energy prices will make this the better solution for everyone.
Image credit::excerpted from larger image of pickled jalopenos at All-Creatures
See more spicy stories on this issue from the TreeHugger archives:
Wal-Mart Now US' Largest Buyer Of Locally Grown Produce
Supermarket Secrets: Be Careful Where you Shop