Postponed Regulations Cause Lettuce Recalls

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Postponed Regulations Cause Lettuce Recalls

Sid, Opinion Writer

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Trump’s administration rolled back FDA regulations in the spring that established water testing requirements, and its effects are already evident. In late November, eleven states including Michigan dealt with a romaine lettuce recall, marking the 22nd one of the year.

By  November 28th, there were 43 reported cases of E.coli caused by romaine lettuce across the US, consequently it was not present at many Thanksgiving dinners because of the risk. The recall resulted in 16 hospitalizations caused by one of the most dangerous strands of the bacteria, E.coli 0157:H7. This strand is not like more common strands, as washing the food does not wash away the bacteria so it presents a much higher threat than what we’ve dealt with in the past. According to, those afflicted are more likely to suffer from bloody diarrhea and kidney failure as this strand carries a toxin most others lack, called Shiga (vero) toxin. Food poisoning caused by this toxin not only causes harm to the kidneys, and digestive tract, but can also cause damage to the lungs and nervous system.

It was unforgivably careless for the administration to postpone these essential water and food regulations because it put so many people in danger. Not only has the administration put people in danger but they’ve also costed consumers. Surgeon Eugene Gu addressed the amount that it has cost people, “Farmers save 12 million so that we pay 108 million in medical costs.” Since farmers are no longer required by the FDA to do the minimum 20 sample testing used to detect harmful pathogens, they say they are saving not only time but money. Though they may at first appearance be saving money, the recalls actually cost them more. The produce seller’s profit is lost because bacteria infected product needs to be tossed. People are also less likely to purchase their product due to the risk, resulting in a decline of demand.

The administration’s irresponsibility needs to be addressed sooner rather than later because people are falling ill. Michigan is often in the list of contaminated states so this is a problem Michiganders are forced to deal with.

These regulations have been put on the backburner until 2022-2024. This is an issue because with the amount of reported cases, hospitalizations, and deaths already recorded in just 2018 many more people are subject to fall victim to his administration’s ignorance. The Food and Drug Association has agreed to extend the compliance dates according to the Federal Register site in order to address questions, and to organize how to propose the regulations in 2022-2024. This means that these regulations will not be enforced for another 4-6 years. With an average of 22 recalls just this year, that’s a risk of another 88-132 food recalls, 16-24 more deaths, and 432-648 million spent just for medical care. Not taking in consider the millions farmers and produce sellers will lose in profits due to unsellable product.

Trump and his administration must take responsibility for the harm caused, and the millions lost due to their negligence of these basic food and water testing regulations. Populations in eleven states (126 million people, over a third of the US population) were put at risk just from the most recent recall in November. Many more people will be put in harm’s way due to the lack of these basic regulations. Safe and bacteria free food and water has been sacrificed just to put a couple more dollars into farmers pockets. The outbreak also has had international effect, causing recalls in parts of Canada too. This kind of negligence is totally unacceptable for not only harming US citizens, but also citizens of neighboring countries.

It is irresponsible and unrealistic to wait until 2022-2024 to put these regulations in motion, and we need to take action now before millions of consumers fall ill to a preventable and possibly fatal bacteria.