If you watch the news, you should probably be in fear every time you eat. Between E. coli, Listeria,  and Salmonella the news media hypes up food born illness like never before and usually the meat industry is the scapegoat. Next time there is a story about E. coli, regardless of if it was a vegetable that caused the outbreak, they WILL show hamburgers on the grill. It’s one of my pet peeves and frankly it makes my blood boil, I hate to see my industry constantly bashed. Anyway, this morning I came across a great article supporting our industry in regards to food born illness. (http://thecattleblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/e-coli-is-it-in-you.html ) Never before have such stringent and rigid food safety standards been in place.  A fellow colleague in my industry posted a rant the other day via Facebook stating, “A beef recall notice, not tied to illness outbreak or any illness at all, is a glaring light that the downstream system is working. Not a symptom of a greater problem.” And what this is something that consumers don’t realize a lot of the time because the media feeds us that a recall = scary and means a mistake was made. When in fact, it means our food safety system is working! And in fact, if you really look at the numbers, the food we eat is pretty darn safe. Let’s do some math, which is not my favorite subject, but alas I am pretty decent at it. The U.S. census bureau reported that in 2010 the population of the U.S. stood at about 308 million. That’s a lot of people. Now you figure, 308 million people eat an average of two meals a day, some three a day but for simplicity’s sake, two meals a day. That is 616 million meals eaten every single day which equals out to around 225 billion meals consumed in the United States each year. Now out of those 225 billion meals consumed, according to the CDC annual’s estimates, about 48 million illnesses result from food born pathogens, only 127,839 are hospitalized, and only 3,037 deaths each year. Now put that into perspective, I’d have to say that our food is pretty darn safe, wouldn’t you? So next time when see an news story on t.v. or read an article about a food born illness, don’t take the information at face value, dig a little deeper, do a little extra research. And you will find out that things aren’t as bad as the news makes them up to be. And that in fact, there are people out there every day who’s life work it is to make your food safe for you. And do them a favor, rather than put the blame on them, thank them for allowing you as a consumer to eat 225 billion meals a year, the majority of which are perfectly safe.

 

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