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Has Politics Contaminated the Food Supply?
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, December 11, 2006
Posted: December 17th, 2006

One hundred years ago, companies were free to follow their own rules. The publication of Upton Sinclairs novel The Jungle in 1906 with its descriptions of rat-infested slaughterhouses and rancid meat created public outrage over food safety. Even though the book was written by a socialist agitator, a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, eagerly read it. After confirming Sinclairs claims, Roosevelt battled the drug companies, the big food processors and the meatpacking companies to protect American consumers from irresponsible corporate behavior. Over the past 40 years, the industrialization and centralization of our food system has greatly magnified the potential for big outbreaks. As a result, a little contamination can go a long way. The Taco Bell distribution center in New Jersey now being investigated as a possible source of E. coli supplies more than 1,100 restaurants in the Northeast. Since 2000, the fast-food and meatpacking industries have given about four-fifths of their political donations to Republican candidates for national office. In return, these industries have effectively been given control of the agencies created to regulate them. The current chief of staff at the Agriculture Department used to be the beef industrys chief lobbyist. The person who headed the Food and Drug Administration until recently used to be an executive at the National Food Processors Association. Cutbacks in staff and budgets have reduced the number of food-safety inspections conducted by the F.D.A. to about 3,400 a year from 35,000 in the 1970s.

Note: If you care about the health of our nation's food supply, write your political and media representatives encouraging the passage of the Safe Food Act mentioned in this article, which by the way, was written by the author of the most excellent book, Fast Food America.

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