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After watching Food INC. for class I felt very strongly that something ought to be done about the meat and poultry business. Namely that there should be stricter standards for their processing factories. Watching the film and learning about Kevin Kowalcyk's death due to E. Coli was frustrating, so I decided to see if I could do something about this problem and somehow bring about a change that Kevin's family has worked so hard to foster. Kevin Kowalcyk consumed a food many of us know and love: the hamburger. 2 ½ Kevin and his family had no idea that the hamburger he had eaten was contaminated with E. Coli O157:H7 or that it would later cause Kevin's death. He died 8 days later of kidney failure due to the complications caused by E. Coli O157:H7.

As a result of this story, I researched what Kevin's mother had developed, a bill called Kevin's Law. This bill is named for Kevin Kowalcyk though the technical name is the Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction and Enforcement Act. As I read more about her efforts to pass this bill, I felt that this should be my effort for the action project portion of this class. I compiled a small list of resources on the bill itself and drafted a petition which I had the members of my classes sign in an effort to show our government that we will not remain silent on this issue any longer. No child should have to die because their food cannot be kept safe. No family should ever suffer the way Kevin's family have been forced to suffer. Kevin's Law calls for stricter safety standards in processing plants, higher quality control standards and more government oversight, specifically the bill would allow the USDA to inspect and shut down any plants which repeatedly fail those inspections.

After having as many students sign the petition as I could, I mailed it, along with the references I'd gathered, to our U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand. While true results may take some time, I was immediately impressed with the amount of support my petition received and that gives me hope that someone in our government might once again champion this bill to Congress. My hope is that one person in our Congress cares enough about food safety to really take a close look at the food industry and realize that the safety standards we have now are simply not enough. We need better control over the meat and poultry industry such that contaminated meat cannot be released to the public. As the mother of a small child myself, I refuse to live in fear that feeding my daughter a hamburger could one day kill her. I believe that this petition will, if nothing else, raise awareness that this issue is ongoing, that the people of this country are demanding reforms, that we will not stop until corporate influence is removed from the decision-making process in Washington as a whole. Our children, our families and ourselves deserve better from our government and it is time we took a stand and said so.

Excellent project.  I just realized that I forgot to sign the petition the day you sent it around!  I feel awful!  In any case, I'd love to know if you hear anything from the senators.

References

Center for Science in the Public Interest.

       2003 Food Safety Legislation-Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction and Enforcement Act of 2003. Electronic Document,

       http://www.cspinet.org/foodsafety/meat_poultry_pathogen.html, Accessed December 7, 2010.

Center for Science in the Public Interest.

      2003 Kevin Michael Kowalcyk. Electronic Document, http://www.cspinet.org/foodsafety/kevinslawbrochure.pdf, Accessed December 7, 2010.

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