Escherichia coli showing flagella

Escherichia coli showing flagella by Microbe World

This is older news for those who’ve been paying attention, but it still warrants flashing red lights. The reckless Tea-GOP members of Congress are trying to end funding for the principal federal agency that does testing for contamination — such as E. Coli — of fruits and vegetable produce. And the reason their supporters give for this homicidal effort is that the program has actually forced the recall of contaminated produce that might have sickened or killed conumers.

From the Seattle Times via Chicago Tribune:

Congress is moving to eliminate the only national program that regularly screens U.S. fruits and vegetables for the type of E. coli that recently caused an deadly outbreak in Germany.

The House last month approved a bill that would end funding for the 10-year-old Microbiological Data Program (MDP), which tests about 15,000 annual samples of vulnerable produce such as sprouts, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupes and cilantro for pathogens including salmonella and E. coli.

Over the past two years, its findings have triggered at least 19 produce recalls, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The supporters of this pathological action admit their justification is that the program actually works:

Those critics say the pathogen testing program has overstepped its original mandate to monitor pathogens in produce, collect data and calculate a baseline of contamination levels from which to measure improvement.

“We thought that was fine and those were good things to do,” said David Gombas of United Fresh Produce, a major industry association. “But over time it got twisted, and it turned into a regulatory program where they were finding contamination and turning it over to the FDA and causing recalls.”

In other words, it’s okay for testers to gather data and to help growers/sellers determine whether contamination levels are changing over time, but Heaven forbid that information be used to actually prevent the distribution of contaminated produce and keep people from being poisoned.

The next time one of these Tea-GOP idiots holds a town hall — today would be particularly appropriate — be a patriot and bring along any left over produce you’d rather not eat. Then just ask why they want to poison our kids, and respond to the answer accordingly. Apparently nothing else is working.

More on E. coli dangers:
BBC, Deaths from E.coli still rising in Germany Along with 35 deaths, so far:

At least 3,255 people have fallen ill, mostly in Germany, of whom at least 812 have a complication that can be fatal.

About 100 patients with damaged kidneys will need transplants or life-long dialysis, one health expert said.

House voting here, here



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

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