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Sustainability

Safe Food for a Healthy Tomorrow

Belgian Lettuce Harvest

The United Nations General Assembly declared June 7 World Food Safety Day. There is not much recognition of the event in the United States where there are programs to ensure safe food in the national production and distribution system.

Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers. Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and healthy. Through the World Food Safety Day, WHO works to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally. Food safety is everyone’s business.

World Health Organization website.

In the United States, food safety is less of a problem until we get to large-scale agricultural operations. Even then, when there is an issue, such as the e.coli outbreak in lettuce from Arizona and California farms in 2018, news media and government are quick to take action to prevent spread of foodborne disease. Potentially bad lettuce was pulled from store shelves within hours of recognition of the outbreak.

I have little worry about the safety of food harvested from our garden or sourced locally. I learned enough about food safety to make sure meals cooked at home are safe. We have control of everything from garden to plate, making the risk of infection exceedingly small.

As vegetarians we have few worries about chicken, turkey, beef and pork. The world would be a better place if consumption of those proteins were reduced. As far as seafood is concerned, with imminent depletion of fisheries I don’t understand why anyone would eat any type of seafood. It would be good to give ocean life a rest so it can restore itself, if that’s still possible. The dairy industry is highly regulated in the United States. I use some dairy in our household and have had no issue with contamination or spoilage. I understand a large percentage of the population relies on fishing for subsistence, livestock as a main protein, and dairy products.

In an affluent country government has standards to ensure a safe food supply chain. Consumers are informed about the risks of foodborne disease. This may be why World Food Safety Day gets little attention here. Food safety should be the background hum in modern society, something we take for granted. For the most part, in the United States it is. That’s part of our American privilege.

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