Secure food is healthy food!

Secure food is healthy food!

The Rand Corporation reports that our meat supply chain is vulnerable to disruption (either accidental or terrorist), and that the reason is the sloppy, under-regulated, over-corporate way that meat is produced and processed.

Jeez, this report sounds more like radical Greens than a plan for food security!

Agriculture and the food industry are key elements of the U.S. economic and social structure. Unfortunately, the sector remains highly vulnerable – both to deliberate and to accidental disruption for several reasons. Critical considerations include the following:

1) Husbandry practices that have heightened the susceptibility of animals to disease. These practices, designed to increase the volume of meat production, include the routine use of antibiotics and growth stimulants in animal diets.

2) The existence of a large number of microbial agents that are lethal and highly contagious to animals. The bulk of these diseases are both environmentally hardy – able to exist for long periods of time in organic matter – and reasonably easy to acquire or produce. Vaccination is no panacea, because it poses risks to animals, and there are no vaccinations for some diseases.

3) The ease and rapidity with which infectious animal diseases can spread, owing to the extremely intensive and highly concentrated nature of U.S. farming. Models developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggest that foot and mouth disease, for example, could spread to as many as 25 states in as few as five days through the routine movement of animals from farm to market.

4) The proliferation of food processing facilities that lack sufficient security and safety preparedness. Several thousand facilities exist nationwide, many of which are characterized by minimal biosecurity and surveillance, inadequate product recall procedures, and highly transient, unscreened workforces. These facilities represent ideal sites for the deliberate introduction of bacteria and toxins such as salmonella, E. coli, and botulin.