During a campaign stop in Iowa about two weeks ago, 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann criticized the government’s regulatory “overkill” when it comes to food safety. “When they make it complicated, they make it expensive and so then you can no longer stay in business,” she said, while chopping beef at a Des Moines meatpacking plant.
In the weeks following Bachmann’s statement, an outbreak of listeria tied to some Colorado cantaloupes has killed sixteen people — making it the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in the U.S. in more than a decade — while four children in the district of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) were stricken with E. Coli from tainted meat. Today, in the Minnesapolis Star-Tribune, a mother from Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota whose daughter had a stroke due to E. Coli poisoning appealed to Bachmann to change her position:
I caught it on the news that you visited a meatpacking plant in Iowa last week and promised to reduce restrictions that ensure food safety, so that small businesses could create more jobs.
I am adamantly opposed to this idea.
According to CNN, the European outbreak of E. coli has killed 16 people; the New York Times reports an even higher number. To loosen rules for the meatpacking industry invites danger to innocent victims — like my 4-year-old daughter, Rachel.
Thanks to E. coli, my daughter has lived in a hospital since June 11. Thanks to E. coli, she experienced acute kidney failure.
Thanks to E. coli, she has also suffered a stroke, resulting in a brain injury on both hemispheres. She has lost her ability to walk, talk and move in a normal way.
Before E. coli, she was a perfectly healthy, active little girl.
The woman, Melissa Castino Reid, closed her letter by saying, “from one mother to another, I’m asking you to reverse your campaign promise and err on the side of safety. For my child. For your children. For everyone’s children. It’s just that simple.”
Every year, 3,000 people die from foodborne illness, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, while Georgetown University’s Produce Safety Project has found that foodborne illness costs the U.S. $152 billion annually. This month, the Agriculture Department announced that it “will ban the sale of ground beef tainted with six toxic strains of E. coli bacteria that are increasingly showing up as the cause of severe illness from food.” It’d be nice if Bachmann could see through her deregulatory zeal for just a moment to support these common-sense rules that protect families from going through the situation with which the Reids are struggling.