The Importance of Food Safety

In the last few years, everyone has been tightening their belts to get through these tough financial times. Government spending as been a hot topic with some people saying there is too much debt and others complaining that money is being spent in the wrong places. In particular, food is a hot topic in 2011, with rising food prices, E. Coli outbreaks, and pervasive obesity. One person who has been talking about these issues is New York Times columnist, Mark Bittman. Whether he's discussing sustainable farming or healthy eating, Bittman always has something interesting to say.

In yesterday's opinion piece, Bittman voiced his concerns about the way the government is losing billions of dollars to overseas wars and corporate tax-cuts but neglecting two important Federal healthy and safety agencies: the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC), a social welfare program, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for ensuring on-going food safety in America.

Bittman argues that recent proposals in the House of Representatives have alarmingly suggested drastic cuts to these programs, which would be a "direct attack on the health and welfare of every person in this country," he writes. Of course, funding money needs to come from somewhere and some programs need to do with less, but Bittman points out that instead of cutting the massive subsidies for commodity crops or ethanol or reducing tax-cuts for the wealthy, some politicians are going after the relatively miniscule budgets of these integral health agencies.

What Bittman wrote in his column is quite alarming. Food safety and social welfare may not be on the top of every politician's list, but they are important issues that affect millions of Americans every day. The FDA has spent the last 100 years protecting and promoting Americans' health and the WIC has been working to ensure the nutrition of millions of low-income women and children since its inception in 1972. It's hard to argue that these aren't important organizations in America.

But even if you don't completely agree with all of Bittman's concerns, it's still important to keep these issues on your mind. Food safety is something that we can sometimes forget about but is an extremely important part of everyday life. This can be difficult when you're in a rush to put together dinner, but it can make a big difference in your and your family's health.

Tips for Keeping Your Own Food Safe

Besides relying on government agencies to monitor the food supply, you need to do your part to keep track of food safety at home. Washing your hands and equipment thoroughly before and after cooking is extremely important. Make sure you properly store your food before cooking it and when saving away leftovers. Also, cross-contamination with cutting boards or knifes is something to watch out for. Try having one cutting board that you only use for chicken and another you only use for beef-this will help prevent the spreading of dangerous bacteria when cooking. Also, make sure to keep an eye on expiration dates when grocery shopping and when reaching for something in your pantry or fridge. There's only so much the FDA can do to protect food safety, you also have to be vigilant on your own.