It seems like every other day, we're hearing about a new food recall. Sometimes we may feel like we're reading nothing more than another fearmongering story, but the sad reality is that one in six of us get sick from contaminated food. Overall, more than 48 million Americans get sick from contaminated food every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, at least 3,000 die. Shirley Mae Almer was one of those 3,000. She died in 2008 after eating peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella. But before that, she had beaten brain cancer.
Her son and a now-advocate for food safety legislation, Jeff Almer, is speaking out about his mother, telling HuffPo Live, "She had beaten brain cancer ... and, you know, to beat brain cancer and die from simply eating peanut butter is just inexcusable." I'll say. Crazy enough, no one has yet been held accountable for this tragedy.
That's because the investigation on the 2008 outbreak is ongoing. Shirley Mae was one of many victims of a Salmonella outbreak that was traced to the the Peanut Corporation of America's processing facility in Blakely, Georgia. The company later declared bankruptcy in February 2009.
Almer and other victims' families deserve answers. And all Americans deserve a safer food supply. Unfortunately, the answer is much bigger than slapping the wrists of one or two responsible parties. It comes down to some serious changes with how we REGULATE the food industry.
Dr. Richard Williams, who worked with the Food and Drug Administration for 27 years, worries not enough is being done to prevent deaths like Shirley Mae's. He told HuffPo:
If plants know they're going to be held accountable for producing contaminated foods, they're going to go all the way back in their supply chain and they're going to make sure that food isn't contaminated.
That's pretty obvious, but there's so much red tape surrounding this issue (and most of it comes back to greed). But when you think about Shirley Mae and many other people who are getting ill and dying -- more it seems all the time -- because the food industry is self-regulating, it's nothing short of hair-raising. For Jeff Almer's mother's and other victims' -- past and present -- sake, something must be done.
Here's the full segment from HuffPo Live ...
Do you feel like more needs to be done to prevent deaths like Shirley Mae's?
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