I picked up 10 dozen eggs from Family Farms’ Co-Op yesterday. We tend to go through a lot of eggs around here – Chris makes amazing omelettes for breakfast, I love to bake, and a couple eggs make a quick and nutritious dinner for Evelyn when I’m strapped for time. I’m so happy to have found a reliable, safe, and local source for ethically raised and delicious eggs. I purchase eggs directly from the farmers who raise the chickens laying the eggs we consume.

When news of the nationwide salmonella outbreak broke last month, I was relieved to not have to worry. The massive egg processing facilities where the outbreak originated had giant piles of manure, rodent infestations, and maggots. These factory farms operated largely unregulated and unchecked by the government agencies tasked with keeping our food supply safe.

The food safety system in our country is disorganized and unwieldy at best. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) share responsibilities for food safety in this country, but there is no rhyme or reason for any of it. A few examples:

1. The USDA regulates the quality of eggs (as well as liquid, dried, and frozen egg products). However, the FDA regulates the safety of eggs. Neither agency has been proactive about examining egg processing facilities, probably because the division of labor is so blurred.
2. Liquid beef broth and dehydrated chicken broth are overseen by the USDA. Liquid chicken broth and dehydrated beef broth are controlled by the FDA.
3. An open-face turkey sandwich is regulated by the USDA, but the FDA checks any sandwich with two slices of bread.
4. Cheese pizza is regulated by one…while pepperoni pizza is regulated by the other. Can you guess which one is responsible for each?? Neither can I!

The good news is that the latest salmonella outbreak has pushed congress to work towards passing the long-delayed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which would streamline our food safety system by enhancing the power of the FDA. The bad news is that no one knows how long it will take to pass…or if it will make a difference once it does.

In the meantime, I’m sticking with food from my friendly farmers markets and the Co-Op. I have faith that the kind individuals growing my food are providing safe and healthy nutrition for my family and community.

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Written by Maureen

More posts by: Maureen

3 Comments for this entry

  1. Colleen says:

    Maureen, I couldn't agree more. There is an article in the NY Times today about the history of the egg producer that caused this recent outbreak and all the salmonella outbreaks it has been linked to over the years. It is disgusting that our government doesn't do more to help consumers.

  2. Emily says:

    Great post! How much did you pay per dozen for those eggs? I buy the free range organic eggs in our grocery store for $3.50 a dozen because I cannot swing the $5-6 cost the farmers at the market want for theirs.

    I love your blog BTW and I wanted to pass the award on to you:

  3. HomemadeMother says:

    Thanks, Emily! We pay $3.50/dozen. Fortunately, the prices are very reasonable. Not sure I could/would pay much more than that!

    I really appreciate the Blog Award! It means a lot!!

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