By now I’m sure most everyone has heard about the half billion eggs being recalled by a couple of Iowa farms. So far, about 2,000 people have reportedly become sick, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Food and Drug Administration only says hundreds were sickened.
But while driving to check on a print job today, I heard Margaret A. Hamburg, the Food and Drug Administrator, on National Public Radio warning Americans on how to handle eggs safely. Wash everything a zillion times. Cook eggs until they’re charcoal. Forget over easy.
This is the kind of food system we now have. Think of it: It’s not safe to make mayonnaise at home, because salmonella might be crawling around in your raw eggs. Ditto Hollandaise sauce.
If a bit of egg leaks over the side of a bowl – like that never happens – the counter below it may contaminate a cookie or sandwich if not bleached clean. Just forget ever letting your kids eat traditional cookie dough batter, because it might sicken or KILL them. (Not a problem in our house, though; I long ago found a way to make great chocolate chip cookies without eggs and butter.)
This is how the federal government, until a month or so ago, was watching eggs: The U.S. Department of Agriculture would inspect the facilities where eggs are processed, reports The Wall Street Journal. The FDA worried about eggs after they left the manufacturers facilities. Apparently, a lot fall through the cracks when you have two teams watching the same game.
New rules solve this problem by requiring just one both the USDA and FDA to share responsibility for inspecting eggs manufacturers. Say what? They’re BOTH still going to be tripping over each other?
But at least the latest food disaster might finally get a few politicians off their collective bums. In fact, Hamburg is using the crises to remind politicians of pending food system reforms, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Hamburg wants Congress to give her the power to order recalls, according the Times story. Think of it: under the current system, companies only have to recall toxic food if they feel like it.
In a way, the situation with eggs is actually getting better. In recent years, no one would have bothered with a recall at all and instead sent a note, reading “Let the eater beware.”