Mark Bittman bemoans the glacial to no progress in Bacteria 1, FDA 0 - alluding to the emergence of superbugs from the over-use of antibiotics in the U.S. food supply. The effect is a 1 in 4 chance that the hamburger you buy at the supermarket contains bacteria that will make you sick and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Congressional resistance to reform ensures that the FDA is virtually powerless to change this.
Here’s the nut: The F.D.A. has no money to spare, but the corporations that control the food industry have all they need, along with the political power it buys. That’s why we can say this without equivocation: public health, the quality of our food, and animal welfare are all sacrificed to the profits that can be made by raising animals in factories. Plying “healthy” farm animals (the quotation marks because how healthy, after all, can battery chickens be?) with antibiotics — a practice the EU banned in 2006 — is as much a part of the American food system as childhood obesity and commodity corn. Animals move from farm to refrigerator case in record time; banning prophylactic drugs would slow this process down, and with it the meat industry’s rate of profit. Lawmakers beholden to corporate money are not about to let that happen, at least not without a fight.