From “Eww” to Action

October 9, 2009

By now, I think everyone has read the NYT article about E. Coli in ground beef.  And it seems that anyone who either is a vegetarian, isn’t a vegetarian, or is trying to convert someone else one way or the other is talking about it (that covers everyone at least once, right?)

One of my first thoughts–once I finished unproductively fuming–was that we really, really need investigative journalism like this.  And I started to worry, along with lots and lots of other folks, that the information age is on the edge of becoming less informative (more on that next).

But, interestingly, that hasn’t remained my strongest takeaway from the story.  My strongest takeaway is that the majority of the folks around me seemed to miss the point.  Conversation in the office was about bleaching cutting board and kitchen counters.  Phone conversations were about whether or not someone should eat at Five Guys.  But almost no one was talking about food safety standards.  

Everyone was asking: how can I keep myself safe from this?  No one seemed to be demanding: why aren’t our regulatory agencies keeping us safe from this?

No one seemed appalled that Tyson refuses to sell to Costco lest they be caught supplying contaminated meat.  No one seemed astonished that someone within the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA would say “I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health.” 

It’s a case in which we have the information.  We just can’t seem to find our way to using it very well.  



  1. Marginally unrelated complaint: Food & Water Watch, who I’ve mentioned on this blog before and who seem to get quoted in all of these stories, had a blog post about this (nicely titled “If It’s Broken, Fix It!”) but failed to link to any action item. This should be gold for FWW building their list, getting a petition out, and making their case that the whole system is busted. Dropped ball.

  2. […] Just another WordPress.com weblog « From “Eww” to Action Some thoughts on just how we’ll manage October 13, 2009 As I alluded to in my last […]

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