June 11, 2012

Apparently, not much.

With talk about Genetically Modified Foods and the increase in outbreaks of food-related illness, it's interesting to realize the subject of just how safe consumer food is has been a topic of conversation going back as far as the days of Teddy Roosevelt and the advent of the Pure Food and Drug Act.

But in 1988 you'd think the problem would have been past us. But no. Aside from health concerns about cholesterol and fat, there were concerns about the new wave of Genetically Modified Foods hitting the market. And not only were there questions about safety with regards to those foods, but with the toxic content of Poultry, Meat and Fish - particularly fish.

This panel discussion, part of the weekly CBS Radio News program Newsmark, first aired on June 26, 1988, assembles a group of experts-at-the-time. Dr. William Castelli from The Framingham Heart Study. Ellen Haas, a food and health policy advocate. Dr. George Pauli from the FDA. Dr. Lester Crawford from the USDA. Jeannette Helm from The Egg Board and Erin Moriarity, consumer correspondent for CBS News.

The sense you get, from listening to this discussion, is that a lot of the regulation that was prevalent over the years in food inspection had simply been abandoned, with reports that Fish, for example, was a scant 10% of what it needed to be in 1988.

Since the era of GMO hadn't really dawned yet, much of the concern over food was confined to Salmonella and unsafe processing conditions. Although there were hints that more than a few eyebrows were raised over just what was going into Genetic Modification, it wasn't given the same level of attention it has lately. And maybe it was just being ignored.

24 years ago and the problem has, if anything, increased. Much has been attributed to lax inspection procedures and nothing appears to have been done to rectify it. Now of course, the affect of Genetically Modified Food is being addressed and the dangers are only now being talked about.

24 years ago we were wondering. 24 years later we know. And the Salmonella hits just keep on comin'.

Here is that Newsmark broadcast - "What's Safe To Eat", broadcast on June 26, 1988.

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