When a salmonella contamination of peanuts processed at a Georgia plant came to light, did you check the labels on your peanut butter and toss suspicious jars of it out?
Chances are, you didn't.
"People might make the connection for the short term," a market-research expert told the Washington Post. "But your taste buds are very, very difficult to change."
According to the article, there may be a couple reasons why people get scared but don't act when it comes to food safety.
People Feel Helpless: With the food system so big, complicated and monolithic, many people feel like any changes they make in their diets won't actually make a difference.
Processed Foods Are "Safe":Processed foods still have an aura of being antiseptic, and having been vetted by a huge corporation.
Eating Healthier Is a Time Commitment: Let's face it, a lot of the foods that are bad for you are also very convenient. Many people's most precious commodity is time, and they're faced every day with having to balance their limited schedule against the distant possibility that their food is contaminated.
I'd like to add:
Changes in Diet Don't Usually Last: Whether it's to lose weight or avoid prion diseases, most people's diets don't usually last very long. All the best intentions can falter at the sight and smell of a luscious cheeseburger.
It's Easy to Get Complacent: There's a distinct "it won't happen to me" feeling that (I'm guessing) a majority of people share. They have a point: You wouldn't get much accomplished if you spent all your time outdoors worried you might be that one person who gets struck by lightning. But, whereas you really can't do too much more to avoid lightning strikes than keep indoors during thunderstorms, you can substantially reduce your chances of eating food that's been contaminated by keeping up to date on food-safety news, checking up on the sources of the food you buy, and making certain changes to the way you think about, buy and prepare your food.
People Are Jaded: There seems to be a major salmonella or e. coli breakout every couple months now. Instead of seeing it as a sign that there's something substantially wrong with our increasingly centralized food network, people often default to the position that it's always been this way, and the media's just hyping it up for ratings. After all, I never knew anyone who personally who got e. coli from a Montezuma's Revenge tacos, so why should I stop buying tacos from Montezuma's Revenge?
All This Talk About Salmonella-Contaminated Peanut Butter Makes Me Crave Peanut Butter: It's true. I'm a sucker. I'll probably make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich now.
What kind of changes have you made after a food scare, if any?
By Michael Y. Park
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