February 9, 2009

Queen business: Let them eat peanut butter!

Many, many times on this blog, critics have suggested Americans don't need big government to protect them from obesity. The argument is we don't need government to tell business what to do. Let the consumer decide. Let the individual decide. Let the company decide.

So these so-called individual rights advocates want government out of our lives when it comes to gun control, and when it comes to tobacco use and when it comes to unhealthy fast foods.

However, if the Wall Street (and Main Street) crisises have taught us anything: it's business only care about making money and mostly making money and bonuses for themselves. To the point that businesses will kill people to make money.  Witness the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter.

The company tried to keep the salmonella outbreak secret. But they are not the only company keeping salmonella poisoning secret. ConAgra Foods -- maker of Peter Pan peanut butter -- hid salmonella in its products from the public for THREE years.

All you "individual rights" advocates, all you caveat emptor people, all you fat-cat executives: Are you ready for your PB&J sandwich from Peanut Corporation of America?

If you want to get sick (or not get sick), read today's article in the NY Times:

Problems emerged in southwest Georgia’s peanut country in 2004, when a whistleblower reported that the food-product giant ConAgra Foods had found salmonella in peanut butter at its plant in Sylvester, Ga., 75 miles from Blakely. But when plant officials declined to release their laboratory tests, the Food and Drug Administration did not pursue the records and was unable to confirm the report of salmonella.

The government finally demanded the records three years later, and verified the whistleblower’s claims, after hundreds of people were sickened by salmonella-tainted peanut butter produced at the plant in 2007. Even then, ConAgra insisted that the government not make those records public, according to documents obtained last week by The New York Times. Calling its testing proprietary, ConAgra told the food agency in a Feb. 27, 2007, letter: “Once F.D.A. has completed its review of the documents, please return them to ConAgra Foods or shred.”

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