Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Children and Food Safety

Recently we read several articles about Factory Farming and how it is harmful to people, animals and the environment we live in. As i read all these articles , I couldn’t help but think that there was something missing; Children. Children are the most susceptible to harm from factory farming and other dangers from the modern world, yet they often get overlooked because of their lack of status. They are more vulnerable because of their size and naivete about the world. We have read several articles about how children are specifically targeted in advertising from Mcdonalds and other companies, but have not really talked about the long term ramifications of this or how it should be changed. Since they are more susceptible to everything, from food safety to advertisements for new products, this should be an area of concern.

Last semester I took a class with Professor Mascarenhas called Environmental Justice. It explored how people's racial, economic and cultural background influenced their exposure to pollution and unsafe environments. We read several articles about children and how they are the most vulnerable to damage from exposure to pollution. Environmental regulations do not take into account the fact that children are even more susceptible to damage from the food they eat, the air they breathe and the environment they live in.

We talked briefly about the Precautionary Principle in class, which states that the government has a responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm when a potential risk has been found. The company/corporation must prove that its product/etc. is safe BEFORE putting it on the market. This counters the current paradigm, which will allow potentially harmful substances in the market until they are proven to be harmful.

This principle should be applied with regard to our food safety and environmental regulations with children as the main focus of our protection. If the level of e-coli in a hamburger could harm an toddler eating a happy meal, it should not be there. If the smog in the air could harm a baby being walked in the park, it should not be there either. Only when we think our the youth will our future adults live in a safe world. We should make our regulations so that the youngest children are protected, because if they are protected, then we will be too.

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