Saturday, 9 July 2011
Food borne Diseases
With European food consumers reeling from a current total number of 46 deaths, and many more ill, hundreds seriously, from a single source of food, it's perhaps worth noting that in the U.S.A. alone, the CDC "estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases."
However what has been especially troubling from the recent European outbreak is that so many deaths have come from what appears to be a single source: most likely infected bean sprout seeds imported from Eygpt and used on an organic farm in Northern Germany.
To put that single-event-European-death toll in perspective, of the "10 Worst Food Contamination Outbreaks” in the U.S.A. alone, the highest death toll from a single event was generally one to two people. (With the exception of the Jalisco Cheese, Listeria outbreak of 1985 which claimed 48 lives.)
That said, the risks of even falling seriously ill from food poisoning fade into insignificance when compared with deaths from road or gun accidents, even homicide.
Many organic farmers speak a great deal about food security, but frankly it seems to me that the main benefits of locally produced, organic food are taste, the reduction of the environmental footprint of agriculture and last but not least, animal welfare.