Saturday, January 29, 2011


If there is a country where industry voice gets precedence over consumer interest it is the United States of America. No wonder this country can boast of biggest food industry in the world. Though this eminent position is not achieved through lagesses from the government coffers, the policy support wrangled out from to time from the two food safety agencies viz USDA and FDA has enabled the industry to roughshod many consumer concerns including the widespread prevalence of GM food ingredients in almost all foods consumed by the citizens there. Latest instance of ignoring consumer safety is the decision by the FDA to defer a program for assessing the implications of presence of antibiotics in milk processed and distributed by the Dairy industry in that country. This has been done because of "protests" by the industry citing "inconvenience" to them!

"Each year, federal inspectors find illegal levels of antibiotics in hundreds of older dairy cows bound for the slaughterhouse. Concerned that those antibiotics might also be contaminating the milk Americans drink, the Food and Drug Administration intended to begin tests this month on the milk from farms that had repeatedly sold cows tainted by drug residue. But the testing plan met with fierce protest from the dairy industry, which said that it could force farmers to needlessly dump millions of gallons of milk while they waited for test results. Industry officials and state regulators said the testing program was poorly conceived and could lead to costly recalls that could be avoided with a better plan for testing. In response, the F.D.A. postponed the testing, and now the two sides are sparring over how much danger the antibiotics pose and the best way to ensure that the drugs do not end up in the milk supply. "What has been served up, up to this point, by Food and Drug has been potentially very damaging to innocent dairy farmers," said John J. Wilson, a senior vice president for Dairy Farmers of America, the nation's largest dairy cooperative. He said that that the nation's milk was safe and that there was little reason to think that the slaughterhouse findings would be replicated in tests of the milk supply. But food safety advocates said that the F.D.A.'s preliminary findings raised issues about the possible overuse of antibiotics in livestock, which many fear could undermine the effectiveness of drugs to combat human illnesses".

How ridiculous the situation is can be gauged by the fact that to day the advances in diagnostic technology have made it easy to determine within no time the microbial contamination or antibiotic traces and the argument regarding wasting milk because of delays in analyses does not cut much ice. Probably the same industry lobby will come out with their view that presence of antibiotics would be harmless!


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