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Recalling Half a Billion Eggs is Silly

Updated on August 25, 2010

Do You Think Regulation will Stop Disease? Watch this video for the Harsh Reality of Corporate Farms

More Regulation will Not stop Disease Outbreaks

Hey I’m the first to fully understand the ramifications of Food Poisoning… because I’ve had it. For 10 days it was pure hell throwing up in one end and well you know very disgusting out the other. I actually went and purchased a padded toilet seat after spending so many hours on the thing. It’s horrible, hideous, agonizing and disgusting. Somewhere halfway into the process I was pretty ready to not care if I just keeled over and died. But… that doesn’t mean additional regulations or inspections would have made any difference. Because the Doctor never figured out what exactly was the cause – source of my food poisoning.

I wanted to preface my coming remarks with the preceding paragraph so that people will fully understand that my criticisms are not out of empathy for those stricken ill.

Corporate Farming

Chickens are not animals in corporate egg farms they are machines. They have no lives to speak of… they sit in cages eating and laying eggs. When their useful life is over they are destroyed. These birds are not free to do anything other than sit, eat, and lay eggs. They are packed in extremely high density environments and for every clean farm there are those that are not well managed and the chickens rest in their own filth. You see you can not produce eggs on the cheap by running chicken friendly farms where they actually have room to roam and exercise. In these high density environments it’s very easy for one infected chicken to contaminate the entire lot. Personally I choose to by eggs from “cage free” farmers, but ultimately my trust is placed not in the farm but what is printed on the package. Don’t look for American Corporate farming practices to change.

Now lets look at the numbers behind the recall. The recent egg recall supposedly affects half a billion eggs – 500 million of them. If you take those half billion eggs and divide the eggs by the 1,300 people who have fallen ill you get an interesting number.

And that number is less than 1/5th of 1% of the eggs caused illness.

Looking at this another way… lets say that your company made $500 million in cash but somehow $1,300 of that money came from illegal drug trafficking. Because of this the Government had decided that you need to hand back over all $500 million to them to “be safe”. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

The Shelf Life of Eggs

Think of this for a moment… by the time the source farms are tracked down the shelf life of the contaminated eggs will have nearly expired. So what is the point in pulling the existing eggs? Sure we need/want to know where the problem is but will pulling the eggs off the shelf make any real difference? I say this for one simple reason. There is a fool proof way to determine without doubt that no one else gets sick while the investigation continues. And that is to simply cook the eggs completely. Complete cooking will destroy the pathogenic salmonella bacteria. That’s right a contaminated egg will not make you sick if you cook it completely.

The Economics of returning all those Eggs

Seriously Grocers and Distributors may return the eggs but how many of us are going to get in our car and return to the store for $1.29? And unless we are already going to the store this will cost us more money and time than just throwing them out or making sure to cook them completely.

Government Regulation to the Rescue!

Every time a story like this pops up – and they do happen every couple of years – suddenly the media criticizes the Federal Government and there is a movement to require more inspections and regulations.

Sadly more Government is not the answer. There is no way that 500 million eggs can all be Government inspected. It’s just not going to happen. And more regulation is going to do what? It’s going to drive the price of eggs up so much that people will consume fewer eggs and the industry will suffer. We don’t need more Government. The simple solution is to address our methods of farming BEFORE these crisis happen. Regulation after the fact (After the Chicken has laid the egg) may increase the prevention rate by a small margin… but it will never stop the problem.

Healthy chickens lay healthy eggs. And until Corporate Farmers decide it’s time to stop treating birds like machines and start developing methods that allow the birds to live natural lives we will continue to have these issues. Want to see something really disgusting look at Corporate Beef Farming… cows ankle deep in their own feces. Downed cattle dragged off to market.

Regulation will never take the place of animal friendly farming. That’s my 2 cents. Think about what you eat and where it comes from. Support local farmers. Only 2% of Americans now work in Agriculture, but all of us depend upon it. And if consumers do not demand quality they will never get it.

Actual Egg Farm

This is an actual Egg Farm
This is an actual Egg Farm
Another Corporate Egg Farm
Another Corporate Egg Farm
One More Egg Farm
One More Egg Farm

Comments

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  • Jim Bryan profile image

    Jim Bryan 7 years ago from Austin, TX

    Mike - you are making my point for me, thanks. Adam Smith wrote about "Enlightened Self-interest" being central to the concept of the "invisible hand," which does not exist in the current climate, especially regarding our food supply. Consumers /could be/ powerful regulators, but they aren't because too much is hidden from them to make "enlightened" decisions.

    Smith also wrote of times when government would need to step in to regulate the actions of certain industries and even of certain areas where the market cannot/will not efficiently supply goods and services (industries which should be operated solely by government). These companion ideas (which are required to make the theory of free markets work properly) are often overlooked by most of the folks who espouse free markets. This is, in part, why we have so many bad eggs--pun intended.

    Our method of regulation is inefficient. We should outlaw certain methods of farming in the US. We should also outlaw foods produced by these methods. The reason so few people work in agriculture is there is no way to compete with Big AG, which has intentionally deflated the value of food--partially through subsidies. Big AG's methodology cause the outbreaks of food borne illness, let's outlaw those methods. It will make the food supply safer, increase competition, and additionally, require more humane treatment of animals. Think about that last part, if you treated a dog the way these people treat your food, you'd be locked up.

  • MikeNV profile image
    Author

    MikeNV 7 years ago from Henderson, NV

    The point is REGULATION would have made no difference at all. And we certainly do not need more regulation. The "problem" has now been traced back to contaminated feed. Regulation would not have prevented this from happening. There is no Right or "Wrongly" way to regulate these issues. These things happen and each time they do the Government tries to use it as an entry way to creating more Government. Consumers are powerful regulators in that they will choose not to buy products from companies who are exposed as unreliable. Unfortunately in the world of Corporate Farming... like most major Corporations there is so much hidden from the consumer. It would be very easy for the Government and the Media to educate the consumer to how their food is being produced... but they choose not to.

  • MikeNV profile image
    Author

    MikeNV 7 years ago from Henderson, NV

    The point is REGULATION would have made no difference at all. And we certainly do not need more regulation. The "problem" has now been traced back to contaminated feed. Regulation would not have prevented this from happening. There is not Right or "Wrongly". These things happen and each time they do the Government tries to use it as an entry way to creating more Government.

  • Jim Bryan profile image

    Jim Bryan 7 years ago from Austin, TX

    I agree that we need to fix the problem at the root, but the "market" /is/ the problem, and will never be the solution. We're regulating wrongly, but that does not mean that regulation isn't required. Great Hub though, rated "up" and "useful."

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 7 years ago

    I am feeling a bit queasy. I just had eggs for breakfast! Our food supply is a mess. Eventually we will get used to salmonella and get sick when it is absent from the food chain!

  • sheila b. profile image

    sheila b. 7 years ago

    Everything you wrote is so true. In the past, when there was an outbreak, we'd hear 'cook your eggs completely'. Then I read - quite a few years ago - about how common salmonella is in eggs. Before that, I'd use raw eggs in my eggnog. Never have since. With this recall, I'm asking why? Agreeing with everything you wrote, I'm adding the fact that salmonella is nothing new, so why make a huge issue of it now? As you said, it's not as though next months supply is going to be any better.

  • Dr Ken Romeo profile image

    Dr Ken Romeo 7 years ago

    I asked the manager at my grocery store if anyone was even still buying eggs. All he would say was "sales are down a bit."

    Yeah...right.

    Nice article.

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