Monday, August 30, 2010

Bad Eggs: Not in this Gluten Free Bakery

Long ago, long before our celiac diagnoses, and long before we ever imagined we would be running a gluten free bakery, we developed a distrust of the food supply. It was almost exactly 17 years ago that our oldest son lay in the pediatric ICU of Boston Children's Hospital, barely hanging on to life. He had contracted an E.coli 0157 bacterial infection, and of the 13 children also with E.coli infections, he was the only one that lived. We never definitely determined the source of his infection, but it was most likely a nasty hamburger from a diner in Maine that left me doubled over in abdominal pain for two days before he fell sick.

I must admit that every time I read about an E.coli outbreak or a food safety recall, I get flashbacks to the Pediatric ICU and the horror of being told that our four year-old son would most likely die. You’d think after 17 years, things would be a lot better, that citizens would have far greater food safety regulations. We don’t.

The most recent recall of 550 million eggs, potentially tainted with salmonella bacteria really got my attention. We use a lot of eggs, and believe me, I am so glad we buy fresh eggs, and we buy local. We could be buying our eggs for half the price if we got them from a place like Hillandale Farms in Iowa with 2,000,000 hens. I don’t know about you, but even the thought of a 2,000,000 hen operation makes me shudder. We know and understand our local ingredient suppliers, and it is well worth the additional cost to ensure the safety of the products we produce.

I’m also really glad we use whole eggs after reading that the potentially tainted eggs (every day 2,000,000 more eggs roll out of the Hillandale plant alone) are being redirected to “breaking plants,” where they will be pasteurized and turned into liquid eggs to be used in ice cream, mayonnaise, cookies, cakes, breads, pet food, food services and restaurants. Commercial bakeries (but NOT OURS,) are one of the biggest users of liquid eggs. According to the USDA, pasteurization will undeniably kill the bacteria. But I still find it horrifying that knowingly tainted eggs are being sold into the food supply. It also doesn’t make me feel much better to know that the suspect eggs will be segregated from other eggs and subjected to a second inspection to make sure they are salmonella free. If pasteurization is 100% effective, why do we need a second inspection?

According to MSNBC chief medical editor, Dr, Nancy Snyderman, the FDA cannot mandate that the farms get rid of the tainted eggs. She also suggests that the USDA and FDA need to get together to protect our food supply. I couldn’t agree more. Getting food safely from farms to table is one more reason to BUY LOCAL

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