Recently, an E. coli outbreak sickened dozens of people in eleven states, causing the shut-down of forty-three locations of a major restaurant chain. Around the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a nationwide recall of approximately 167,427 pounds of ground beef products for suspected E. coli contamination. Rampant fear spanned across the country, causing paranoia and anxiety among millions.
In today’s well-established, streamlined food processing and distribution industry, how do E. coli and other food-borne pathogens enter and spread in our food chains? What can we do to help improve food safety? With these questions in mind, I visited a large factory farm and a food processing center here in California. After some open-minded talks with the workers, I found some interesting facts which reveal vulnerabilities in the existing commercial food chain.