Food Safety has been a very pressing issue for countries all over the world. The governments have realized the degree of danger that this poses for humans only recently. In order for food to be safe, a variety of steps need to be taken. There are many issues that fall under the discussion of food safety. A very important issue that is often discussed is feeding the livestock healthy food. The food that is fed to these animals is largely responsible for diseases like mad cow and bird flue. When such unhealthy animals are consumed by humans, it leads to consequences that are fatal.
This is the reason why these animals must be tested before they are packaged for consumption at home or when this meat is sold in restaurants, schools and other public places. The first case of mad cow was found in the United States of America in 2003. Since then the Agriculture Department has increased its examination and inspection of cows in farms. In 2003, 55 tests were run daily and this number increased to 1000 tests daily in 2006. But is this enough? Is the government of United States of America taking enough steps to prevent made cow disease?
There has been an ongoing debate of whether the testing of animals before they are sent to consumers should be voluntary or mandatory. Mandatory testing would definitely prevent the problem of mad cow disease and keep unhealthy cattle out of food supply. A mix of Mandatory and voluntary testing must be adopted. This will make sure that maximum number of cattle is tested. (United Press International) Downers must be kept out of the food supply as well and this precautionary measure will greatly alleviate the problem of mad cow disease and prevent it from spreading.
USDA which is a government agency is responsible for both promoting and monitoring agriculture has been reported to give higher priority to protecting the beef industry over welfare of consumers. The government of America have recently decided to decrease the number of animal tests carried out because according to them America does not have the problem of mad cow. In order to conduct a test, the cattle has to be killed. There are only about 95 million cattle in United States therefore according to them, carrying out these tests is not cost-effective and necessary.
Different consumer groups have protested against this decision to decrease the number of animal tests. (Quaid, L) In order to prevent mad cow disease, three steps can be taken. Firstly, care must be taken in what is fed to the cattle. Feed with mammalian protein is said to be responsible for this disease, therefore this should be avoided. (eHow) It has been reported that American cattle are fed slaughterhouse waste and chicken litter. This kind of cheap food is responsible for diseases like mad cow.
(Quaid, L) Farmers must be educated as to what kind of feed to use for their livestock. Meat must not be imported from countries where there is already a problem of mad cow because there is a very high chance that that imported meat will be unhealthy. Lastly, animal tests for mad cow must be made mandatory for all farmers and a higher percentage of cows that are packagaed for human consumption must be tested. (eHow) Safety Practices of the Meatpacking Industry The meatpacking industry has had a history of high rates of accidents, injuries and illnesses.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working in the meatpacking industry is the nation’s most dangerous occupation and has the highest rate of serious injuries with 40,000 workers injured every year. (Schlosser, E. ). This is because a variety of cheap and unethical practices are employed by employers in the industry which exposes the workers to dangerous working environments. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has outlined a list a possible hazards that a meatpacking worker could suffer from. (OSHA)
This issue is very pressing because every worker in the industry is at risk everyday when they go to work. This is a reason why serious measures need to be taken by the authorities which will alleviate the problem faced by the meat packing industry. First of all, standards and bench marks must be set for every factory in the industry and an agency must be set up which will ensure that these standards are met. The workers must be given proper training which will teach them safe ways to handle their jobs. The workers must be given first aid training which can be very helpful in times of need.
There is a strong need for well-organized, efficient, practical, and fair government and non government agencies that will make sure that meat packing workers are not exploited by businesses at workplaces. Health and safety laws must be imposed by such government agency which will ensure that workers are not exploited by the employers. For example, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a government organization that sets standards for industries and then ensures that these safety and health laws are being followed within workplaces throughout the US.
OSHA has proved to be quiet successful at reducing accidents at work. According to OSHA, the use of engineering control will reduce potential hazards to a great extent. These controls are methods designed to prevent harmful exposure of workers. A few examples of these engineering controls include installing guardrails which will reduce accidental falls, using non-skidding materials for floors, ensuring proper wiring, and setting up a proper ventilation system.
Other measures that can be employed by employers include giving workers breaks between work which will greatly reduce problems like carpal tunnel syndrome and back and shoulder injuries. The workers in the meatpacking industry must be provided proper clothing and equipment. For example, safety helmets must be provided to workers performing hoisting and shackling operations and ear plugs for workers who have to deal with machines that give out loud noise. Safety practices like cleaning up after a spill must be encouraged by employers.
Every dangerous material or chemical must be properly labeled so that workers can handle them with care. (McLaughlin) All the safety precautions mentioned above are very easy to be employed by the industry and these will reduce the number of accidents in the meatpacking industry to a great extent. The cost of these measures is definitely lower than the accidents that are caused; therefore there is no reason to not undertake them.
References 1. Quaid, L. (2006) Government to Reduce Mad Cow Testing. Retrieved July 08, 2008 from CBS News. Web Site: http://www. cbsnews.
com/stories/2006/03/14/national/main1404495. shtml 2. Quaid, L. (2005) Critics: US Doing Too Little to Prevent ‘Mad Cow’. Retrieved July 08, 2008 from Common Dreams News Center. Web site: http://www. commondreams. org/headlines05/0618-02. htm 3. eHow. (2008) How to Prevent Mad Cow Disease? Retrieved July 08, 2008 from eHow. Web Site: http://www. ehow. com/how_2066938_prevent-mad-cow-disease. html 4. United Press International. (2006) U. S. Must Change Mad Cow Testing. Retrieved July 08, 2008 from UPI. Web site: http://www. upi. com/Top_News/2006/05/15/Editor_US_must_change_mad_cow_testing/UPI-57551147734728/
5. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2008). Meat Packing Industry: Hazard Recognition. Retrieved July 8, 2008 from OSHA. Web site: http://www. osha. gov/SLTC/meatpacking/recognition. html 6. McLaughlin, Ann. (2008) Safety and Health Guide for the Meatpacking Industry. Retrieved July 8, 2008 from OSHA. Web site: http://www. osha. gov/Publications/OSHA3108/osha3108. html 7. Schlosser, E. (2001) The Chain Never Stops. Retrieved July 8, 2008 from Mother Jones. Web site: http://www. motherjones. com/news/feature/2001/07/meatpacking. html