Ratatouille de la Green Beans; America’s New Specialty
It was October 9, 2007 in the city of Lehi, Utah. At home, Marianne Watson contemplated on the ever-nagging question; what’s for dinner? A sigh escaped from her mouth, as well as her heart, as she realized it would be green beans again for dinner. Her weary feet somehow found strength and she got up and slowly trudged to the kitchen. She heard a crash and one of children began to wail. She merely glanced towards where the cries were coming from, and continued to search for the can of beans. The squeaky hinges on the old cupboard cried as she opened it in search of a can. To her relief, there was one can left. The expiration date was still good, so she got out the can-opener and popped off the lid. In the other room where the old china vase had shattered, little Annie’s sobs ceased for one moment, enough time for her to draw in another breath. Annie became surprised, for it wasn’t her scream that came next, but her mother’s! She wiped her tear stricken face and ran to the kitchen. There she found her mother looking horrified at a can of green beans. Inside the can, lay the head of none other than the pesky rodent we call, a rat. Though this story may seem ridiculous, it really did happen. Yes, the dinnertime and little girl part is fake, but the rest is true. Marianne Watson of Lehi, Utah indeed found a rat’s head in her can of green beans purchased from Wal-Mart. Is this what America has become? A country where we have to be on our toes making sure the food we eat is safe? It’s almost an undeniable fact that America’s food supply is not safe. People are finding animals and body parts in their food, diseases are popping up frequently in our food supply, and it appears that the FDA either won’t start believing that there is a problem or if they’re recognizing a problem they are unwilling to address it. America is not supposed to be this way; we should be one of the last countries plagued with a problem like this.
Animals and unwanted body parts really should stay out of the food we eat. There are so many other stories, just like the one about the can green beans. The Deseret News Publishing Company had an interesting article on this topic. There was a snakehead in an Iowa family’s can of green beans, the same story for a Pennsylvania man named Earl Hartman. Brenda Eisenberg from Illinois found an “amphibian leg” in her can of green beans in November of 2005. Dave Pierce of Alpine, Utah found a ? inch long worm in his fruit cocktail a couple of years ago. Clarence Stowers from Wilmington, North Carolina found a severed first knuckle in her custard dessert from Kohl’s Frozen Custard. The shocking thing though is that the FDA allows rodent hairs and worm fragments to slip into processed food. The can company’s justification for the rat head incident is that it’s sterile. A spokesman for the company explains that they cook each can at 265 degrees and any germs would have been killed. Do they really expect us to eat the rat head because it’s sterile? Of course the can would be thrown out because who cares if it’s sterile, it’s a rat’s head for crying out loud! That would sure go down well with a tail and some whiskers! Who knows where the rest of the rodent body went. Maybe someone else had it in their can of green beans and just thought the beans were extra crunchy. Yes, it is true that the rat head was of no harm, but if a rat head can get into our food, then what other dirty things could? That definitely shows that America’s food isn’t safe if unwanted objects are popping up in our food supply.
We shouldn’t have to deal with disgusting nonsense like this.
On another equally serious note, horrible and even fatal diseases are being found in food regularly. A website held by the Food Safety Legislation says that “each year millions of people become ill and up to 5,000 people die from contaminated food.” The New York Times just ran an article on this. They’ve said that salmonella, a potentially fatal illness, is constantly running through America’s chicken and egg supply. E.-coli bacteria was found in California produce last year, specifically in spinach. Diseases and pesticides like these not only make the food supply unsafe, but deadly.
Not to point fingers, but let’s face it, the FDA just hasn’t been doing so great of a job. In the 1970’s, the FDA wasn’t sure of how much aflatoxin should be used in food because there was a problem with our peanuts. The FDA now twenty years later still hasn’t made up their minds. People are getting sick and even dying because they won’t simply sit down and come up with better guidelines. Yes, it’s not as simple as just sitting down once and talking it over, but if it’s been twenty years and they still can’t make up their minds on certain pesticide levels, then they definitely are to blame. America’s food just isn’t safe anymore, especially if the people in charge of its safety aren’t doing a good job. Lack of time is no excuse any more for why we can’t fix the guidelines. Something needs to be done, not next week, month, year, or decade, but now!
So what can we as people do while the FDA sorts out their issues? Watching the news for food poisoning recalls and warnings is a good start for staying safe. Cutting down on red meats and foods that are constantly having trouble with diseases is also good. In addition, watch what you eat. Make sure there isn’t a pair of beady little rat eyes watching, waiting to be digested. It is truly embarrassing that America has a problem like this. People are indeed finding rat heads and other unnecessary things in their food, diseases are killing, and the FDA isn’t helping. It may be a while until we fix this growing issue, but until then we will have to deal with our furry little rodent friends swimming laps in our green beans. Just think of it as the prize at the bottom of the cereal box.
Cspinet.org, Food Safety Legislation. November 28, 2007
Davidson, Adam. “How Safe is Supermarket Food?” NPR. November 21, 2007 http://www.npr.org/templates/story.php?stroyld=11833228
Herndon, Michael. “Spinach and E. Coli Outbreak” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. November 21, 2007
Robinson, Doug. Deseret News.com, Deseret Morning News. November 26, 2007
Spurlock, Morgan. Don’t Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America. New York: G.P. Putham’s Sons, 2005.