A News21 student-led investigation discovered tainted food was sold at a USDA sponsored farmers market. In fact, the farmers market is located right in front of USDA headquarters in D.C. A few blocks away, near the White House, tainted chicken with campylobacter bacteria was being sold. This is the market Michelle Obama visited two years ago promoting her healthy eating campaign.

USDA Farmers Market Sells Contaminated Food

One of the probes focuses on the USDA’s weekly farmers market, a popular destination for government employees and tourists to shop for fresh produce, poultry and baked goods. The agency sponsors the event adjacent to its headquarters. It’s part of a government-wide effort, led by Michelle Obama, to promote healthy eating. In fact, thanks to the First Lady’s obsession with inner city obesity, the USDA has spent millions of dollars to bring farmers markets to urban neighborhoods across the U.S.

Food Safety Issues Flare in the Shadow of U.S. Capitol

…customers of this market, operated by one of the lead agencies in charge of enforcing the nation’s food safety rules, have been buying leaking bags of uninspected raw chicken with salmonella on it, according to tests conducted by a commercial laboratory for News21 during the summer of 2011. Also sold at the market: eggs sitting out in 90- and 100-degree temperatures in cartons bearing the USDA-mandated warning that they be refrigerated at all times.

Microbac tested raw poultry from seven farmers markets and grocery store chains, all within 1½ miles of the U.S. Capitol. Five of the seven sample tested positive for campylobacter, and two were positive for salmonella.

The out-of-state vendors selling the tainted poultry qualified for an exemption from federal food safety inspection because they operate small farms. However, having this exemption restricts the sale of goods over state lines. The farmers said they were unaware of such restrictions. So were two USDA officials who were interviewed by News21.

Here’s something I was unaware of and you may be too.

It is not illegal to sell poultry and other meat containing salmonella or campylobacter bacteria. Regulators instead have placed the responsibility on consumers to understand the importance of cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding cross contamination of other foods on the way from market to oven.

I shop at a local farmers market every Sunday. The shopping is quicker and I felt good about supporting local farmers. The prices aren’t any better than supermarket prices and, as this study points out, the risk factors are the same. It doesn’t matter if the farm is large or small.

“There’s no data to say that small farmers or producers or processors are in any way safer than large ones,” said Dr. William E. Keene, senior epidemiologist with the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division.

In fact, the farmers selling at local markets may feel less pressure to reduce risk.

“We’re finding that there’s less pressure on a vendor at a [farmers] market to implement risk reduction because the perception is that the product is safe already,” said Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. “At a grocery store growers have all these specifications they have to hit, but that’s absent in the farmers market.”

Tainted food sold literally in front of the eyes of the USDA is bitterly amusing and feeds cynicism about big government. Obama took great pride in signing the Food Safety Modernization Act which created mandatory national safety standards for produce. Every time there is a big story about bad food the government responds by writing more rules and regulations. Without regulations the problem of tainted food would be far worse, but there is a point of diminishing returns. The problem with massive regulation is that it weakens enforcement of the essential by using resources to enforce the trivial. It is impossible for producers to be 100% aware of all the rules. It can even do more harm than good by fostering consumer complacency.

In spite of all the regulations we can buy direct from local farmers and still get sick. I’ll be adding carrots and cabbage to my supermarket shopping list this week.

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6 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. JHSII says:

    Nothing to see here, move along, move along…

  2. ShArKy666 says:

    ONCE AGAIN this goes to show just how much they all LIE to us when they couldn’t care less about anything but themselves…thanks for posting this

  3. snit3 says:

    Sorry, but the carrots and cabbage are probably contaminated by salmonella bacteria. From a positive point of view, this nasty habit of little critters getting in our food supply could lead to an entirely new industry – the “Nuclear Irradiation Platform”. Add one of these beauties to your lineup of kitcken appliances and NIP the bastards in the bud! (it could be solar powered, too!)

  4. dennisl59 says:

    Once Obamacare is fully implemented, with the D***h Panels, and the Soylent “Green” Factories are up and running in 24/7 production, we won’t have this ‘minor’ food safety glitch in our daily nutrient supply chain.

  5. Alan K. Henderson says:

    Why couldn’t they sell guns to Americans and tainted food to Mexican drug cartels?

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