When a food-safety recall hits a beef processor or a poultry farm, anti-consumer activists can always be counted on to fan the flames of hysteria. When, for instance, a Colorado beef plant had to recall a batch of ground beef on July 25 because of E.coli fears, a wide variety of pressure groups helped the story to gather momentum. With a we-told-you-so attitude, vegetarian-only diet activists seemed almost giddy; Public Citizen (Ralph Nader’s group) called for immediate government action; and a self-anointed food-safety watchdog from the Center for Science in the Public Interest told the Denver Post that “It’s really time for Congress to step in and investigate.”
What a difference four days make. On July 29, the Food and Drug Administration announced another E.coli food recall, but this one received almost no media attention. You see, it concerned Romaine lettuce, not meat. At least 40 people, mostly teenage girls attending a cheerleading camp near Spokane, Washington, have been confirmed as E.coli victims, just from eating their greens. One victim, profiled in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, has already endured a 27-day hospital stay, including seven dialysis sessions and three blood transfusions.
Guess how many activist groups are threatening protests against “Big Lettuce”? We can’t find a single one who seems even slightly interested in promoting this particular food-safety lapse for political gain.
A tip of our hat to the “Meating Place” website, which recently reprinted an e-mail from one frustrated meat industry veteran. If this had involved meat, he wrote, “it would hit the front page and be on the TV news. Activists would be screaming for tighter inspections…. Where are they now — now that it involves one of their precious vegetables — the ‘good for you’ foods, the healthy food, and a non-meat item? Hypocrites!”