For more than a decade, it’s been clear that there’s a gaping hole in American food safety: Growers aren’t required to test their irrigation water for pathogens such as E. coli. As a result, contaminated water can end up on fruits and vegetables.
After several high-profile disease outbreaks linked to food, Congress in 2011 ordered a fix, and produce growers this year would have begun testing their water under rules crafted by the Obama administration’s Food and Drug Administration.
But six months before people were sickened by the contaminated romaine, President Donald Trump’s FDA – responding to pressure from the farm industry and Trump’s order to eliminate regulations – shelved the water-testing rules for at least four years.
Despite this deadly outbreak, the FDA has shown no sign of reconsidering its plan to postpone the rules. The agency also is considering major changes, such as allowing some produce growers to test less frequently or find alternatives to water testing to ensure the safety of their crops. (our emphasis)E. coli conservatism strikes again! Not surprisingly, there's a Trump fox in the chicken coop:
James Gorny, a former industry lobbyist whom the FDA hired in February to implement produce safety rules, told the group that the agency would not ask anything of growers in the interim.
“The FDA has clearly stated, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’ We’re not asking you to do any more at this point in time,” he said.
Gorny’s career is a classic example of the revolving door between federal agencies and the industries they regulate. (our emphasis)Who the hell cares about food safety if it comes at the cost of asking a grower to "do any more at this point in time," like testing water for E. coli? It's just the price you're paying for freedumb!
We wonder if the tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue to growers from the recent romaine lettuce recall, not to mention loss of consumer confidence in the food supply system, was worth it. We suspect, since this is only the latest of many instances of irresponsible practices on the part of the agriculture industry, they see it as part of the cost of doing business. Maybe the Democratic House will see it differently.
So much rot and corruption, so little time.