1,900 Years of Salmonella

Terrance Heath

(With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.)

It began with Veggie Booty. Or rather, I should say, it ended with Veggie Booty. As was my habit, I’d tossed it into the cart during our family’s weekend grocery shopping trip. I didn’t read the label, in part because I’d read it before, to make sure there were no meat products used as ingredients, and didn’t think I needed to read it again. Then I learned about the recall.

Also, shopping with a healthy, active five-year-old doesn’t lend itself to taking the time to read labels. So I didn’t. Until that Veggie Booty was recalled because it was tainted with salmonella, which was traced back to a spray-on seasoning, which was eventually traced back to China. Fifty two people became sick, complete with bloody diarrhea, including an 18-month-old.

My spouse and I each take about 30 seconds or less to read a food label. Even though we’re shopping with our five-year-old son—and now our two-month-old son—we have all the time in the world. In fact, because of them, we have all the time in the world to read food labels. We have 1,900 years, to be exact, because it will take the Food and Drug Administration 1,900 years to catch up on food import inspections.

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