Organic Foods Not Always Safer
Recent outbreaks of salmonella in organic eggs revealed organic foods are not always safer than foods from larger operations.
"Labels like organic or local don't translate into necessarily safer products," says Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, as reported by the Associated Press. "They are capturing different values but not ensuring safety."
Part of the reason is that organically and locally-grown foods sometimes don't get the same rigorous Food and Drug Administration safety inspections as large food operations, which reach more people.
"While it's critical that food processors be regularly inspected, there is no way the Food and Drug Administration would ever have the resources to check every farm in the country, nor are we calling for that," says Erik Olson, a food safety advocate at the Pew Health Group, as reported by the Associated Press. "Unfortunately, there are regulatory gaps, with some producers being completely exempt from FDA safeguards."
Not only is the FDA focused more on the companies with the greatest reach, but smaller farms are now exempt from the safety inspections thanks to a new food safety law President Barack Obama signed earlier this year, according to the Associated Press. A result of farmers and local food advocates complaining that creating costly food safety plans could cause some small businesses to go bankrupt, the exemption covers farms of a certain size that sell within a limited distance of their operation.