Investigative journalists still required for food safety – even if newspapers disappear

Toronto city councillor Brian Ashton said yesterday,

"I was stunned that the Toronto Star was able to – for the second time – expose a problem that the Board of Health seemed to be unaware of," referring to the newspaper’s "Dirty Dining" series in 2000, which prompted public health to release restaurant inspection records. "The Toronto Star is becoming more like a board of health than the Board of Health."

Food safety stories are increasingly the fodder of investigative journalists, regardless of media. We all eat, so we’re all interested to a point, although not everyone wants to go politico with every bite – sometimes it’s enough to not barf.

The recent Toronto Star series on the filth of soft-serve ice cream machines is an example of media setting the public health agenda.

Toronto Public Health is cracking down on more than 100 ice cream vendors after a Star investigation revealed hazardous levels of bacteria in soft-serve cones across the city.

Consumers can do the same thing – with pictures and video that can readily be captured by most cell phones. Send it to your local health unit.

Otherwise, D-listers like Tori Spelling (above, right, exactly as shown) set the agenda.