Among the most serious of consumer issues facing the public are the concerns for the quality of food that we buy and the safety of the medicine that we place our trust in. Over the last several years we have seen more and more problems in these very products in which most people purchase on a continual basis.
Some recent concerns are that of Mad Cow Disease and the lack of government regulation to ensure consumer safety.
The USDA must take several steps to strengthen food safety, in addition to testing all cattle over 20 months of age for BSE at slaughter. These include:
· Banning the human consumption of materials produced through advanced meat recovery and mechanical de-boning of cattle carcasses;
· Incorporating rapid testing technology and making the results public on a timely basis; and,
· Eliminating loopholes and strengthening enforcement of the current "feed ban," which still allows the use of cattle blood as a feed supplement for cattle, the use of rendered cattle and bone meal as a feed supplement for hogs and poultry, and the use of rendered hogs and chickens and chicken waste as cattle feed.
Though reality it is speculation, as to rather the USDA’s program to detect mad cow is adequate. The USDA’s mad cow disease surveillance program consists of testing the brains of all cattle diagnosed with central nervous system disorders at the time of slaughter and testing a sample of "downer" cows, animals that are unable to walk. In 2000, approximately 2,300 brains were tested of 35 million cattle slaughtered. Largely on the basis of this program, which has produced no positive results, the USDA claims that the United States is free from mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). BSE is a neurological disease in cattle that has been linked to a fatal condition in humans, known as "variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease." Approximately 100 people have died from the disease, primarily in Britain.
Public Citizen and GAP evaluated the surveillance program by using government data to determine the testing rate for each of the top 20 cattle-producing states from August 1997 through December 2000. There was a 400- to 2,000-fold difference between the states with the highest and lowest testing rates.
Mad Cow has not been the only problem; there have been episodes of hepatitis infecting consumers after eating green onions infected with the virus. These green onions were imported from Mexico.
In addition to these severe risks the consumer has been exposed to, are the risk of medicines. In the past several years the consumer has been exposed to many dire risks when taking supposedly safe medications.
The risks of medications are everywhere in the news from PPA which is alleged to cause strokes in otherwise healthy individuals to antidepressants. If you cannot trust the medications prescribed by your doctor; where is the world of consumer protection headed.
The threat to consumers doesn’t end with the market of food and medicine; there are many products which are recalled everyday that could cause potentially serious injury or death. Unfortunately these products include merchandise for infants as well as toys for children.
It is essential that the governments of the world take into account the protection of their citizens as consumers by leveling stricter guidelines for products, especially in the food and drug industry.