For the past three weeks, Food Safety News has published warnings about the lack of credibility of both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We thought the warning was justified because the FDA and CDC were caught hiding the existence of the fourth outbreak of E. coli O157: H7 due to contaminated romaine lettuce. We now count five romaine-caused E. coli outbreaks since late 2017, so it is not surprising they thought they could hide one.
The two federal agencies managed to keep their little secret going for six weeks. We thought their behavior deserved punishment, but other than putting them on double-secret probation, there was not much we could do.
Then we decided Food Safety News would issue warnings to our readers about FDA’s and CDC’s lack of credibility. The plan was to issue these warnings for six weeks, the same time period during which they played hide the outbreak. We thought readers should know the two federal agencies might as easily be lying as telling the truth.
We’re cutting it short because we do not want to add to anyone’s bad Karma over romaine. Nor do we need to continue to be part of this story, which has no ending at this point.
Romaine, in the past two years, has infected 360 people in these five separate outbreaks, with E.coli sending almost half to hospitals and killing six.
And Thanksgiving is turning into the romaine industry’s Groundhog Day with the fresh produce again being removed from grocery shelves just ahead of big shopping days.
News about the No. 5 outbreak came quickly on Nov. 20-21.
It’s probably worth noting the role that state officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) played in getting the news out.
State officials found E. coli in unopened packages of romaine lettuce produced by Ready Pac. And FSIS announced that Swedesboro, NJ-based Missa Bay was recalling approximately 97,272 pounds of salad products because the lettuce ingredient may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7.
And the No. 5 outbreak also brought more immediate comments from industry players up and down the supply chain. Government and industry have been working to shut down the source of these outbreaks, but expressions of sympathy for the victims have been few and far in-between.
So then for the last time, here’s what we are dropping three weeks early:
Editor’s note on Opinion originally posted Nov. 3: At this time, the credibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not to be trusted. Both agencies have shown a reckless disregard for the public’s right to know, and their reliability going forward remains suspect. For the next six weeks, Food Safety News will publish this note above on every story involving the FDA or CDC.
It was three weeks of fun.
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