Weakening public safeguards means more people will be getting sick… or worse

The recent outbreak by a drug-resistant strain of Salmonella linked to ground turkey produced by a Cargill meat processing plant in Arkansas that made at least 80 people sick and killed one is another reminder that regulatory safeguards to inspect the food we eat play a crucial role in the health and well-being of our nation.

What makes events such as this even more frightening is that there are many in Congress who want to weaken the regulatory process. This might be “good” for business, but it would be horrific for the people.

Some are standing up and saying “no.” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee’s health subpanel, called out her colleagues who have tried to slash food-safety funding, and warned such actions would lead to more people getting sick.

“By cutting their funding, we have limited their effectiveness and asked FDA and USDA to do more with less, and the impact of these cuts is starkly clear with this most recent recall,” DeLauro said.

In the third-largest food withdrawal in history, Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of potentially contaminated meat, and it’s not the first time the food-producing giant has been forced to do so. In 2007, the company recalled 845,000 pounds of frozen ground beef patties linked to an outbreak of E. coli.

Foes of regulations want to make it easier for businesses to operate, but they ignore the protections regulations provide. Weakening such safeguards is a dangerous game and places all of us at risk – especially the most vulnerable to food-borne illnesses, the elderly and the young. Congress must not place corporate profits ahead of public safety.