Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Courts and Our Food

Here in Western Pennsylvania, we are in the throes of recovering from a fairly large Hepatitus A outbreak. A ChiChi's in Beaver County (just north of Pittsburgh) apparently managed to get its hands on some green onions that had somehow managed to become contaminated with Human Fecal Matter, and as a result over 500 people came down with the disease, at least three people died, and some are waiting for new livers at the moment.

In the wake of this, it is not reassuring to read via Electrolite and Nathan Newman that the Eighth Circuit Court has ruled that the Labor Department overstepped its bounds in requiring Advanta USA to provide portable toilets for seasonal agricultural laborers.

In the recent outbreak, the current claim is that the onions came from Mexico. Since many of the other reassuring noises coming from the health department have been shown to be either wrong or misleading I'm reserving judgement on that claim. But with Big Ag practices like this, how long will it be before a case is traced to the US?

Update 12/04: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that there are now 635 confirmed cases of Hepatitus A related to this outbreak, but the incidence of new cases is tapering off.