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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Going Nuts Over Recalls

Published March 31, 2009 8:46 PM by Donna Pelkie
Here we go again.

There it was, the lead story on all the news Web sites. Government warns: Don't eat pistachios; they might be contaminated with salmonella.

Only recently did I muster the courage to dip back into my jar of peanut butter, and now, there may be more bacteria lurking in my pantry.

As of late afternoon on March 31, the company at the center of the recall said it believed contaminated raw pistachios may have been mixed with roasted pistachios during processing. The company and the FDA continue to investigate.

I try hard to be a good mom and make sure my family eats healthy. I'm blessed with a daughter who actually likes eating fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, in recent years, there have been numerous items we've had to pull from our household menu.

There was the spinach contaminated with E. coli. Last summer, we had to ban tomatoes, a terrible hardship as it is my daughter's favorite food bar none, and the recall happened before our garden tomato plants had even flowered. Then peanut butter related items became off limits. Where does it end? I can't help but look at the items in my grocery cart and pray that I'm not poisoning my loved ones.

A check of the FDA's recall Web site makes my head swim. And while President Obama vowed in a recent weekly address to get tough on food safety, some of the statistics he pointed out don't make me feel any better.

According to a transcript of that address, in recent years, the underfunded and understaffed FDA has had the resources to inspect just 7,000 of the country's 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses each year. That means roughly 95 percent of them go uninspected.

In the same address, the president announced the appointment of Margaret Hamburg, a former New York City health commissioner, as commissioner of the FDA. He also announced the creation of a Food Safety Working Group.

President Obama ended his address by saying he takes food safety seriously not just as our president but also as a parent. Well this parent hopes the administration gets down to work on ensuring the safety of our food supply quickly and earnestly.

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