Back in February, NPR reported
on the House floor, Texas Republican Pete Sessions brought up a bill that takes wide aim at federal regulations.
Do we believe that McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken and Safeway and Kraft Food and any brand name that you think of, that these people aren’t concerned about food safety? The food supply in America is very safe because the private sector self-polices, because they have the highest motivation. They don’t want to be sued, they don’t want to go broke. They want their customers to be healthy and happy.
This self-motivation appears to have been insufficient lately, given that
Federal health officials said Wednesday more illnesses and possibly more deaths may be linked to an outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe in coming weeks.
So far, the outbreak has caused at least 72 illnesses- including up to 16 deaths- in18 states, making it the deadliest food outbreak in the United States in more than a decade.On September 20, campaigning at a meat locker in Iowa, Michele Bachmann maintained "It is more regulation than this business has ever had before. Now government has gotten in and made it almost impossible to be able to create a profit anymore in this business." She termed federal regulations "overkill."
Oops. The Minnesota congresswoman spoke a little too soon. In an ironic twist (given the effort by the House GOP to kill food inspection)
The recall of 65 tons of ground beef that might be contaminated with E. coli has hit close to home for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
The meat, recalled today by Tyson Fresh Meats, was shipped to 16 states. But Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., was eager to point out that the recall was prompted by illnesses that struck a family in Ohio’s 8th District, which is represented in Congress by Republican Boehner.
WCPO, ABC’s affiliate in Cincinnati, reported today, “four children became ill after eating the meat with their family in Butler County, Ohio, in the second week of September.”
A 9-year-old child was hospitalized for about 10 days with severe diarrhea,” the station reported. DeLauro said she hopes this is a "wake-up call" for Republicans who plan to cut food-safety funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
Not going to happen. Republican sentiment on food inspection is about the same as Republican sentiment on almost all government, as reflected in the GOP presidential debates. In Tampa, Rick Perry pointed to Texas' "freedom from over-taxation, freedom from over-litigation, and freedom from over-regulation" and Mitt Romney applauded the "zero income tax, low regulation, a right-to-work state, oil in the ground and a Republican legislature" in Texas. In Orlando, Newt Gingrich (education), Herman Cain (environment), and Ron Paul and Rick Perry (in general) denounced government regulation. No explanation necessary; they paint with a wide brush because it's just a matter of faith nowadays. And if they were told of the following recalls in the month of September alone, it wouldn't matter:
28 Sep, grape tomatoes due to possible salmonella
27 Sep, 131,300 pounds of ground beef due to e. coli
26 Sep, spinach dip due to listeria
23 Sep, 40,000 pounds of frozen ground beef due to e. coli
23 Sep, processed cantaloupe associated with the 14 Sep recall, also listeria
16 Sep, queso fresco cheese because of listeria
14 Sep, cantaloupe due to listeria
14 Sep, fresh hot basil due to salmonella
13 Sep, avocado pulp and halves due to listeria
11 Sep, 185,000 pounds of ground turkey due to salmonella
And that doesn't include routine contamination of meat and seafood. Alas, that doesn't matter, either.