Microbiologically safe food – regardless of farm size

Daughter Courtlynn spent her spring break with daughter Sorenne in Manhattan (Kansas).

Which is the only lede I got into foodborne illness, conspiracies and shameless exploitation of children.

The conclusion is this: Michelle Obama should use the White House garden to endorse microbiologically safe food, from around the corner or around the globe.

Phillip Brasher wrote in The Des Moines Register yesterday,

“In recent years, the federal government and the food industry have taken some significant steps to improve the safety of fresh produce. Those measures include stringent inspection standards for farms that supply schools and supermarket chains. The standards sometime restrict the use of compost and manure to fertilize crops and restrict how close cattle can be to fields.”

Stringent standards is not the descriptor to be used in the wake of the Peanut Corporation of America-AIB auditing fiasco. Worse, associations representing small-scale farmers have taken to the Intertubes to whine and conspiratorize about the end of family farming; that somehow standards for producing safe produce shouldn’t apply to small farms, or my garden.

The group that keeps getting cited for its threatening analysis of proposed food safety legislation is the ponderous Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which is run by the folks pushing raw milk. And some of those folks have, uh, interpretations of food safety that are not only wrong but dangerous to public health. Epidemiology does work, but not everyone likes the results.

Back to my kids. Or Mason Jones, the five-year-old who died in the 2005 E. coli O157 outbreak in Wales. Or Barack’s kids, since he cited them in a food safety chat. The food safety goal, for me, is to have fewer people barfing and dying. There is some microbiology and food science available to help achieve that goal. There is a lot of speculation, fairytales and unknowns about the providence of nature and immunology which can get in the way of that goal.

Michelle Obama, you are embracing local and fresh and natural foods and whatever that means. As I asked March 11, 2009, use the White House bully garden to embrace microbiologically safe food.