Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Guest Memo: Satire From The Onion - 'FDA Approves Salmonella'

FDA director Stephen Sundlof okays the bacteria for eating, drinking, and applying directly to the skin. [the Onion. March 10, 2009.]

On The Lighter Side

From the Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) Editor's Desk: As we're all too aware, the food-borne pathogen salmonella is a tough one to shake. In 2007 it showed up in salad greens in the United States. In 2008 it appeared in fresh peppers and Roma tomatoes. And now -- its peanut butter. Salmonella appears to be the enterobacteria that keeps on giving when it comes to appearing in various parts -- and products -- of the U.S. food supply chain.

And try as it might, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just hasn't been able to figure out how to stop these frequent and very serious food safety issues centered around Salmonella contamination in a host of very different foods and food products.

Perhaps the satirical publication "the Onion" has the right approach in a piece it published today. In that piece, "FDA Approves Salmonella," "the Onion" offers an "if you can't beat it embrace it" approach to the Salmonella contamination issue.

We reprint the humor piece from "the Onion" below (in italics). Remember -- it's satire:

WASHINGTON—Calling it "perfectly safe for the most part," and "not nearly as destructive or fatal as previously thought," the Food and Drug Administration approved the enterobacteria salmonella for human consumption this week.

The federal agency, which has struggled in recent years to contain the food-borne pathogen, and repeatedly failed to prevent tainted products from reaching store shelves, announced Monday that salmonella was now completely okay for all Americans to enjoy.

"Rigorous testing has shown that salmonella is...fine," FDA director of food safety Stephen Sundlof said. "In fact, our research indicates that there's no need to pull any more foodstuffs from the market. Not raw chicken. Not contaminated spinach. Not thousands of jars of harmful peanut butter. Not anything."

"It's approved," Sundlof continued."Healthy, delicious salmonella is finally approved."

Following the announcement, the FDA released a 20-page report, which included evidence that salmonella is barely more dangerous than other live-culture products such as yogurt, and results from a clinical trial which found that participants who ingested salmonella were totally fine for up to three minutes.

The report also concluded that salmonella has been around American kitchens for centuries now, and must therefore be at least harmless, if not actually good for us.

"Of course, as with everything, we encourage moderation," lead FDA researcher Phillip Millar said. "Don't just eat a whole pint of salmonella in one sitting. It's like ice cream or, for example, E. coli in that respect."

Added Millar, "A little bit goes a long way."

According to FDA officials, the intracellular bacterium will be commercially available in a variety of forms. Plans are already in the works to offer salmonella as a flavorful topping, food spread, powdered drink mix, dessert gelatin, and as a "no frills" yellow liquid guaranteed to enhance one's overall eating experience.

With hundreds of possible applications, the newly approved gram-negative microbe will also open the door for many innovative and exciting products.

"This is thrilling news," Hellmann's CEO Robert Reichert said. "We've been waiting for the federal go-ahead to produce salmonella for decades now. In fact, we have an entire line of lukewarm, sun-soaked, and partially turned mayonnaises that we just know Americans will love."

A variety of products containing the newly approved food-borne microbe will hit non-refrigerated shelves this month. [the Onion. March 10, 2009.]

One of several new foods to feature the motile microorganism is Salmonell-Os—an O-shaped breakfast cereal packed with hearty typhoid clusters—which is expected to hit grocery stores by April.

Other products currently in development include Salmonella Helper, Kraft's Extremely Painful Mac, 'Nella Wafers, and peanut butter.

"Now that salmonella's been approved, we're working overtime to get our products to market," said David Wellbrook, head of sales for Oscar Mayer, the nation's leading producer of bologna-based goods. "I've never seen so many orders come through in a single year, much less a single day. It's incredible."

News of salmonella's approval also comes as a relief to many homemakers, who, until now, had been cautioned against letting the bacteria spread.

"It used to be such a pain to have to sanitize my kitchen," Chicago resident Margaret Thewles said. "Now all I need is one cutting board. I'll cut raw poultry on it, prepare my salad veggies on it, and then use it to serve dessert when I'm done."

Salmonella is said to contain the seven essential forms of bacteria growing infants need. [the Onion. March 10, 2009.]

Michael Weinback, a California native and father of two young children, agreed with Thewles."

This is…arrghhh…great," Weinback said from the bottom of his living room stairs. "Oh, Jesus…here it comes agai—uuuuhhhhh, Christ. Get hel…just get…aarrghh.

[Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) Editor's Note: NSFM thanks"the Onion" for permission to reprint the satirical story above. Click here to read the original satirical piece at "the Onion" Web site.

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