Last night's State of the Union presentation was no exception. I drifted in and out of consciousness for the duration of the President's address. The only thing that kept me going was the hope that "food safety" would rate a mention.
Alas, it was not to be.
This morning, I accessed the transcript of the speech on the White House web site. Eagerly, I used my Mac Find function to search for any mention of "food" – and found one sentence in which the word appeared.
President Obama said:
"As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers."
If there was ever any doubt of where food safety ranks on this Administration's priority list, that doubt has now been firmly and unequivocally put to rest. Even though we are in the midst of yet another nationwide outbreak of food-borne disease, food safety didn't rate a single, token mention in a speech that was more than 7,400 words long and ran for 1 hour and 9 minutes.
I agree that creating and saving jobs is important. I agree that fixing health care is important. I agree that repairing our broken financial regulatory system is important.
But so is ensuring a safe food supply.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 million Americans suffer an episode of food poisoning each year. Five thousand people die as a result; 325,000 are hospitalized. Some of the survivors must struggle with the aftereffects of their illnesses for the rest of their lives.
Unsafe food costs lives, resources, and millions of dollars each and every year. Surely, food safety rates more attention from this Administration.
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