Food is the nation’s biggest business. Each American consumes about 1400 pounds of food in a year. Considering the number of people involved in growing, processing, and selling this large amount of food, the record of safety is excellent. In fact, the food supply is as safe, wholesome, and nutritious as any in the world. This is so because of many interrelated factors: (1) an agriculture dependent upon scientific methods and controls; (2) a system of rapid transport to market under controlled conditions of temperature and sanitation; (3) a highly developed food technology that enables processing of food under high standards of quality control; (4) a rapid turnover in the market place; and (5) intelligent handling by the consumer whether in the home or institution. Each step in the chain from farm to consumer is protected by legislation to ensure compliance to high standards.
Although the overall record is excellent, there is no room for careless handling of the food supply. Death from botulin poisoning is rare, but its dramatic occurrence provides headlines in the news. Milder illness from food poisoning occurs to millions every year, but for the most part such illness goes unnoticed and unreported. Only when such illness strikes infants or an institution where many elderly people are living is there concern; these people may, in fact, die from the infections that would be only mild to healthy adults.
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