March 6, 2009

Deregulation with extra Salmonella

Reading this story just furthers the rage at Republican public policy. Food producers in this country are essentially left up to their own devices to determine food safety. They can hire independent inspectors, and then ignore their recommendations. The only thing that makes them change (unless they are a good company) is bad media attention. But if the media never hears about their bad policies, they keep doing them.

In the case of our peanut producer, they hired a guy who was an expert in produce, and didn't even realize that salmonella was a problem in peanuts. He gave the plant an excellent rating. And he is not the problem, of course. He did the best he could, but was simply the wrong guy for the job. The plant had already done some testing and knew they had salmonella, but had decided to send out the tainted goods anyway.

This is what deregulation leads us--the grocery store as crap shoot. Thanks, Republicans. Sure love the "let corporate interests regulate themselves" stuff.


steves said...

This is just crazy. When I worked in the mental health sector we had gov't auditors (state and feds) several times a year (overkill, in my mind). Why can't we shift some of the funding for that into food inspection, which seems much more critical. I wonder how much of this is deregulation and how much is lack of funding for inspectors. While Republicans are often leading the charge for deregulation, Dems have controlled Congress for several years now. Did they pass any new laws or authorize funding for food inspection?

Another major factor for change is litigation. On the first page of a google search for peanut butter recall, you will find this helpful page that will hook you up with a local peanut butter recall attorney. Unfortunately, Republicans are often big champions of tort reform which is mostly in place to protect big business and limit the rights of the injured to receive compensation. I am not a big fan of tort reform, but I am pretty biased in that regard.

Streak said...

Steve, you are right. I take out much of my ire on the republicans for this, and think they deserve a lot of the blame. But Democrats over the last 20 years have also gradually bought into what I think are the most destructive of the conservative ideas. They too badmouth taxes and talk about their own deregulation of industry.

This is less a partisan problem and more a conservative idea problem--in my opinion. Again, I realize we can overdo some regulations, and we certainly can overdo taxes, but conservatives have decided that the market is all knowing and magical. Talk about your faith-based movement.

steves said...

As much as I like the libertarian stance on war and civil rights, I can't buy into their laissez faire economic policies. I think the market with self-regulate in some areas, but that doesn't apply to all things. I think the challenge is to find regulations that genuinely protect consumers and allow businesses to operate.

Markets were much "free-er" around the end of the 19th century, but look at all the scary stuff that happened. Do coservatives want to return to a time with widespread food poisonng and bad medicine?

Monk-in-Training said...

My Aunt has been an inspector with the Dept of Agriculture since Nixon. Right after Pres Bush was elected and BEFORE 9-11 she got into a major dust up with my Dad over how Pres. Bush was changing, as had never been done before, the process deep inside the agency.

I remember her warning that before this President left office there would be children dying and rotten food on the shelves.

I did not belive her then. I do now. :(