"Public Safety Issues"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, October 2, 2010

It was reported in August, a Wright County Egg Farm in Iowa where much of a Salmonella outbreak had been traced, had received over 400 positive results for Salmonella since 2008. Further examination of the test revealed 73 samples were Salmonella enteritidis, the type that recently left over 1,500 people ill.

During the salmonella outbreak, the largest egg recall effort in U.S. history, over half a billion, occurred. Most of the eggs were recalled from the Wright County and Hillandale egg farms, both with connections to the same owner. The positive results were forwarded to the Agricultural Department’s National Veterinary Services Lab. Release of the reports indicates someone in the department should have been aware of the problem.

As the salmonella outbreak spread to 17 states, an investigative sub-committee chaired by Bart Stupak, (D-MI) requested the owner of the farm explain why he failed to report the past positive test results. The FDA investigation into the recall determined the last positive results were obtained at Wright County Egg Farm July 26, 2010, less than three weeks before the company recalled the eggs.

As we, the consumers, were receiving the news of the egg recall, it was also reported diet pills were in question. The FDA had directed some of them be taken off the shelves. Soon there were reports of tainted baby formula, and the list goes on.

As I see it, if we are paying employees to serve on committees that investigate threats to public health, shouldn’t it be one of the chairman’s responsibilities to inform the public when that threat is brought to the committee’s attention? If testing of products occurs and harmful test results are determined yet there is no follow up — why do the testing?

I wonder why some tests are performed and what kinds of test are done on many products presented to the FDA. It seems we are frequently being advised of products being recalled and told we should not be using them. How do these products get on the shelves for purchase or into stores if they are unsafe? Do we have to have deaths or serious illnesses reported from the use of them before action is taken?

I recently read a report of young girls suffering developmental effects from drinking milk, most of which is found to contain growth hormones. I wonder if much of our obesity problems could be traced to the same hormones. I’m sure the hormones are tested but if the test results are no better monitored than those from the egg farms — why test?

It seems to me we are creating jobs by conducting all the tests, why not create a few more jobs and gather test results and follow up on them. Weekly E-coli test done along Huron County beaches should be investigated as to why they are often positive. If public beaches are contaminated, why wouldn’t nearby private areas also be? Wouldn’t a serious study of the test results benefit the people who use the 90 miles of waterfront within Huron County? Include not just the few miles of public frontage represented by public parks, but the entire shoreline.

The studies I’m aware of that are done regarding our E-coli problems along Huron County’s shoreline are incomplete. The use of the beaches concludes as weather changes in the fall and testing stops. Therefore, what benefit are the tests? Perhaps test samples are taken by summer-only, seasonal employees and when they leave that is why testing stops? Or as we are told, funding runs out.

If our public beach areas can become contaminated in various areas that change every week, we should be testing year round. I would like to know what keeps the E-coli out of water supplied to our homes. For many of us, our water comes from the same area where testing of public beaches is done.

At some point public safety should become a priority to all those in a position to ensure it.


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