Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Masking Symptoms is not a Cure

Scientists at the FDA are proudly sharing early results on identifying a "good" bacteria that destroys the bad bacteria which causes salmonella. The link to the article above provides interesting statistics on the dramatic increase in salmonella contamination in fruit and vegetables in recent years.

Is the increase in salmonella outbreaks due to fruit and vegetable contamination a concern? Yes! Should we be trying to find a way to "cure" our food by identifying some way to modify it? Perhaps not.

America has, in many ways, become a culture of the quick fix and easy cure. Feeling blue? Take a pill. Obese? Gastric bypass. Have a cold? Over-the-counter options abound. Eventually we learn that masking the symptoms doesn't really solve the problem.

Am I the only one a little concerned about where this "good" bacteria story will go? The next thing you know our food will be doused in good bacteria at the grocery store. And, some enterprising entrepreneur will sell good bacteria spray so you can treat your food at home.

I, for one, don't want anything (no matter how "proven") altering my food. Trust me, the FDA has precedent here. In 2006, the FDA approved a mixture of six different bacteria that can be sprayed on meat to kill a virus.

The reality of many quick fixes is we simply cannot fathom the long term consequences. History is full of examples of how a seemingly good idea created havoc later. This article from National Geographic tells an interesting story if you want more proof.

I propose we figure out why our fruits and vegetables are increasingly contaminated. Is it our farming methods? Is our water supply tainted? Are our handling and food processing procedures creating risk? Should we shipping food across the country and world?

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