Lessons from the Egg Recall

We’ve read enough about last month’s egg recall to know it was a doozy: 500 million eggs from two large-scale Iowa producers were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. Rather than moving on and brushing this latest scare behind us, let’s first consider what lessons can be learned. The Economist makes these lessons plain in its recent article on the subject, “Un Oeuf is Enough: Unsafe Eggs Are the Latest Food Scare.”

The article notes that a combination of intense industry consolidation and prolonged, lax regulation helped contribute to the recent mess. The Economist quoted one especially shocking production trend: “In 1987, 95 percent of the country’s output came from 2,500 producers; today, that figure is a mere 192.” So what does this mean? Think about the advice financial advisers give their clients: diversify, diversify, diversify. Why? Because if all your money’s in one type of investment and that investment goes under, you’ll lose everything. Now consider eggs: when a few companies produce the vast majority of the nation’s eggs—or meat, or peanut butter, for that matter—and those eggs become contaminated, the overall ramifications are much greater than if the industry were better diversified among smaller producers.

On a positive note, this latest crisis has kicked longstanding calls for greater food safety measures into high gear. Bills before Congress seek to provide stricter standards for food producers in an effort to better protect consumers. As we wait for new regulations to be adopted, we can only do so much: keep our eyes and ears cocked for more recalls, and shop as responsibly as we can.

Are you still wary of eating eggs? Chime in below!

Like This? Read These:
Recalled Eggs: Are They In Your Fridge?
Egg Recall, Cages and the Bottom Line
Nationwide Egg Recall Underway

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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