The FDA and a variety of states limit the sale of raw milk and raw milk cheese due to bacterial health risks. Other foods, like sprouts, hamburger, cookie dough, etc., on the other hand sicken and/or kill hundreds if not thousands yearly with not nearly the governmental oversight. My “friends” in the raw milk movement scream (they seem only have that one volume) or make snarky comments (I think it has something to do with consuming raw milk probiotics), that the FDA is in the pocket of big business, or that one trial lawyer in Seattle is a food Nazi, but what does the FDA do with food that is unquestionably risky?
Take the lowly, and quite ugly, puffer fish, or Fugu. Apparently, according to the FDA, tetrodotoxin poisoning results from the ingestion of edible portions of the puffer fish, which may become contaminated from the poisonous excised tissue during processing, or from the transfer of the toxin from poisonous parts as a result of improper freezing and gradual hawing of unprocessed puffer fish. There is a 50% fatality rate among those who ingest tetrodotoxin (TTX). The toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing.
So, what does the FDA do?
The FDA may detain, without physical examination, all shipments of Puffer Fish, Globe Fish, Swell Fish, Fugu, or other members of the order Tetradontiformes. However, there is an agreement between FDA and the government of Japan, which permits the importation of the species Tora (Tiger) Fugu (fugu rubripes rubripes) for consumption in the United States. With this agreement, the puffer fish are:
a) processed and prepared, so that they are “ready” for consumption, by the Fugu Fish Market in the city of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, which handles over 80% of the total Fugu consumption in Japan, and whose processing factories are manned by specialists licensed by the Government as special Fugu Chefs;
b) shipped certified by the Department of Health of the City of Shiminoseki, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, as legally processed in an authorized processing factory. These shipments of puffer fish from Japan are allowed entry into the United States through JFK International Airport. These puffer fish are brought into the United States no more than two or three times a year, between September and March.
Hmm, dangerous products being regulated? Where have I heard that before? Damn, those food Nazis. But, shouldn’t foods that bear some (or alot) of risk be treated the same?