A few years ago I made a trip to Houston, Texas. While I was there I stopped for a meal at a Cantina. I ate at a few other local spots as well. On the plane ride home it began: nausea, fever, chills, headache, vomiting. To be frank, I wanted to vomit my guts out. I drove straight from the airport to my doctor’s office, and he sent me straight to the hospital. And there I stayed for the next ten days. They fed me by IV since eating wasn’t an option. There were times when I thought dying might be preferable to continuing on in the agony. At those moments they would add a little Demerol to my IV drip. A green gray cloud would carry me away and for a while it was nothing but bliss. Eventually the death wish would return. Food poisoning can be really rough.
The United States has one of the highest quality and safest food supplies in the world. This has been accomplished by a strong set of governmental regulations and enforcement and the ability for the average citizen to pay for this quality and safety. Our food supply is so safe that whenever this wall of safety is breached it becomes headline news all around the country. These breaches are addressed and corrected quickly in most cases. Foodborne illness is rare in the United States. This is not always the case in other parts of the world. But we are not satisfied with our present high level of performance. Continuous improvement in food safety is still the goal of the government, both at federal and state level. Food safety in the US is controlled by at least fifteen different federal agencies. The primary two are U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Supporting these is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC is mainly responsible for investigating and eliminating nationwide outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.