Friday, October 10, 2003
** Food Safety

The NYTimes is running a long investigative report on safety violations at cattle slaughterhouses. The biggest problem appears to be that the slaughterhouses just can't seem to remove all of the cow shit from the production line. But despite a "zero tolerance" policy and repeated violations (the company at issue here was cited for feces once every 12 days during one time period) the Department of Agriculture does nothing more than issue threats. There are no shutdowns.

Analysis: as with all health and safety issues, this is almost purely a public relations issue. In other words, as long as people think that the food system is safe, that's good enough. But when confidence falls, the consequences can be devastating (cf. Mad Cow Disease). So kudos to the Times for making this public.
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