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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

A Food Safety walk through Shanghai – What would the FDA and FSIS have to say?

I had a long walk through the streets of Shanghai this morning and kept thinking about how I get dozens of comments when I take on raw dairy poisoning people, but seldom get a word when I take on big ag for being responsible for the same – go figure.  Although some of the commentators to my blog are clearly more than a bit paranoid – especially when it comes to raw milk and raw milk cheeses.

Yet, they do have a solid point that they believe the FDA and FSIS are more apt to shutter a small processor than a larger one.  It would be interesting to do a study on recalls, outbreaks and closures and compare it to company size.  I wonder if size really matters?  Or, is it that the FDA and FSIS simply do not like it raw? You must also wonder what the FDA and FSIS folks here at the upcoming Food Safety Conference would think about the below:




photo4.JPGFinally, I wonder if the raw milk folks felt that big ag was getting whacked by the “food police” as often as raw milk seems to be to them if they would stop whining?  My guess, not.

  • Pam

    I dont understand why these people dont get sick, and we do in the USA.

  • Pam, they do get sick. They just suffer in forced silence.

  • Bill’s right, Pam. When we traveled in South East Asia in 2008, we ended up giving all of our “gippy tummy” meds to our Burmese guide, who was suffering very much in silence!
    Bill, your pictures bring back memories.

  • Dog Doctor

    If you haven’t travelled and you don’t realize how fortunate we are in this country with our abundant and safe food. You should travel to many other countries, especially those that supply us our produce. It is expected to have some sort of signs of GI upset ever few days. I will not say illness since these folks keep working since they don’t get paid sick leave. In many place they will have three production lines with the best quality product going to Europe or the US, they have separate lines because we have different regulations. The third line is for product they can’t export which they sell domestically. You will also see people who are suffering from chronic diseases that we have eradicated like from brucellosis (undulant fever), tuberculosis (consumption), and reactive arthritis. I was at colleague’s talk where they had just come back from Afghanistan. They described the medical conditions that afflicted the average person there including intestinal parasite, and spinal and bone deformities due to brucellosis and tuberculosis. For all those people who think you would be better off eating like we did at the turn of the century, please visit these developing countries, and see what it is like. Go the places off the tourist destinations and see how local folks live or join the Peace Corp.
    If you read public health material from the turn of the last century, you will see that in the United States had similar issues until public health officials’ (doctors, nurses, and veterinarians) worked for requiring clean water, and food. In the earlier days, often they lives were threaten and they dealt with all the issues that are resurfacing that it would cost too much, or interfering with my rights to “dysentery”( reference Colbert report) They eventual were able to establish minimum sanitation measures and eliminating these diseases from the livestock that provide food for our tables. Local, State, and Federal Inspection services were borne out of their work with help of Lewis Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. Our current safe and abundant food supply owes much to these people and to people like Mr. Marler who keep up the fight for improving the safety of our food supply even when our political leaders would remove these safety measures as they tried to do with last administration much like Mr. Sinclair.
    So to the point, go visit other parts of the world to see how things were or could be if we didn’t have the public health system that we do.

  • Bill Anderson

    Perhaps instead of asking what the FDA would have to say about these open-air markets, we should be wondering what the local people would have to say about FDA’s pending approval of GM salmon?
    Talk about imperial arrogance, Bill Marler. They used to call that kind of attitude the “white man’s burden.”

  • Beautiful photos, Bill. These look like a number of French and other European open air markets I’ve been to. The food at such places is usually very fresh, and delicious. The Europeans, like the Asians, must be suffering in silence. Yeah, FDA and FSIS wouldn’t approve, but then, isn’t sterilization their thing? These markets sure aren’t sterile.
    On the raw milk regulatory abuses, I don’t think it’s a matter of those of us supporting food freedom wanting to see big corporations get the same abusive treatment. It’s a matter of the regulators refraining from abuse, and doing their jobs professionally and fairly–leaving politics out of the decision making. Unfortunately, there’s virtually no oversight of the regulators and little in the way of appeals options, except going to court, which costs so much and takes so much time that smaller outfits can’t survive. In other words, there’s a lack of due process, which our political and legal systems are supposedly based on.
    David Gumpert

  • Gabrielle

    When we travel abroad, we are prepared to get sick from the food. The sad thing is that we are not prepared when we get sick here at home. Most of the time our sicknesses don’t get reported or even realized that it was from the food that we ate. When Christopher was food poisoned and hospitalized they thought he was suffering from Colitis . . . (go figure a 7 year old with Colitis!)

  • L.E. Peterson

    I know a few FSIS inspectors (including myself) that would panic at the sight. Heck, I’ve seen a few plants stateside that bring on anxiety attacks!

  • Bill Anderson

    The milk bottling plant I work at ships minimally pasteurized non-homogenized milk from grass-grazed heritage breeds (like Jersey cows, who produce a higher-solids milk than the modern American Holstein). Our milk is shipped to 18 Whole Foods stores in the Washington D.C. area, as a direct and vocal protest against existing federal dairy policy.
    When foreigners who live in the D.C.-area taste our milk at in-store demo’s, they often tell us:
    “I didn’t know there was such a thing as bad milk until I came to America. Your milk tastes like the milk from my homeland.”
    So, I would STRONGLY beg to differ with you Dog Doctor.
    We don’t have it all that lucky in this country. Unless, that is, we happen to be one of these “anti-government raw-milk locavore wackos” who actively seeks out traditional foods, often from illegal and underground sources.
    Our mainstream food supply may be abundant, but it is mostly sterile, toxic, and nutrient-less. Our chemical and fossil-fuel intensive agricultural system is eroding topsoil at a rate unprecedented in human history. And America is raising the most unhealthy generation of children, who will suffer a lifetime of chronic life-style related diseases from all the sterile, overprocessed, GMO, high-tech PHOODS that corporate America feeds them.
    Let me be clear about my position: it is NOT basic hygeine standards which I lament.
    In Europe there are ubiqitous open air markets like the one you see above, certified raw milk is legal, and there are many traditional soft unaged raw milk cheeses which enjoy legal protections from commercial immitators. Yet they have hygeine standards… its just that their standards are reasonable and based on local traditions and know-how, unlike American standards which are fascist and based on the imperatives of big business and big government.
    There are not people falling over dead from food borne TB and listeriosis in Europe. The French enjoy one of the lowest rates of heart disease, what with their high intake of saturated fats from soft unaged raw milk cheeses and alcohol from their various local wines.
    What I lament is the fanatical food fascism (yes, fascism: the merger of state and corporate power) that people like Bill Marler promote. It is killing Americans. It is NOT food safety in the least, it is food fascism. Following the modern American diet will guarantee a lifetime a poor health.
    What arrogance, Bill Marler, that you think you and FDA know better than the locals how to make their food safe. What arrogance. Can you say “white mans burden”, Bill Marler?

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    Bill Anderson, Bill Marler is not your enemy. Don’t talk to him as if he is a piece of trash. It is so disrepectful. You can make your point without being a jerk.
    Here’s the concept. If you produce raw milk or raw milk products, keep the shit out of the milk. If you don’t, you will meet Bill Marler. You can talk all you want about the health benefits of raw milk, but that is all cancelled out when it becomes contaminated with a pathogen. I still haven’t figured out why raw milk advocates defend the pathogens.

  • Bill Anderson

    Why do the sterile food fanatics defend government deception, guns-drawn raids, and forced closure of raw milk producers and distributors who have made no one ill?
    Please point out where I “defend the pathogens.” I defend producers who have been targetted by the government under false pretenses or as part of their ongoing campaign against food choice and nutrient-dense local foods. Bill Marler, instead, decides to blindly parrot government propoganda. That is why I criticize him.

  • So Bill, only recalls when people are sickened? Do you want that standard to apply to all food manufacturers, or just raw milk cheesemakers? I see that you never complain when I use USDA, FDA or CDC data in other cases, yet you complain when I use it against businesses you support, hmmmm? If you give me real data and facts that these four recent raw milk or raw milk cheese recalls should not have happened, I’ll be happy to post it.

  • Jim Thomason

    I served a career in the military and visited many countries around the world. Before entering a foreign port, I would brief the crew among other things on the local dangers relative to the consumption of food and water. It was astonishing to see in some countries (mostly the orient) people lived their lives with diarrheal conditions. It was normal for them. I believe we have the safest food supply in the world. Sure, some of it tends to be overly processed, regulated or inspected but consider the alternative. We live better, have a more abundance and variety of safe food. And we do have a choice – don’t eat it…

  • Catherine N.

    Ok. I have a foot in two camps, so to speak. I grew up in the Middle East, we shopped daily (or almost daily), bought what was fresh. Some things we didn’t buy, because of common sense (slurpees, for example, because the ice would be brought in through the dirty streets, and wasn’t necessarily clean). We didn’t buy a lot of street food, but we did eat meat. There were not really supermarkets, at all, when I was growing up.
    When large numbers of people got sick, it was usually from a pesticide. We were always careful to wash our produce, keep things clean, etc.
    I remember, as a child, coming to the States, and being amazed by supermarkets. However, the food always tasted better at home. I remember my grandparents visiting and exclaiming over the flavors of the food.
    I’ve traveled a lot, eaten steak tartare in France, not gotten sick… I’m not saying people can’t get sick from street food, they can. But you have to know which places are safe to eat at. You have to use common sense.
    I have also posted in support of raw milk. I drink it in the summer, and its a very different animal than the stuff in the stores. They have told me that the insurance rates have gotten very high… but I also know that these folks are clean, take precautions, keep everything pristine. I have never had a problem with any of their food. I do think you need to be careful, of course, but most food problems seem to arise with mass-distribution of food, not small, individual vendors. I suspect this is even the case with raw milk. But it seems when raw milk and raw milk products are sold in commercial venues like Costco or even Whole Foods, that’s when you get problems, because they are not handled properly.