Conveniency or liability: food poisoning apps

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ART BY SAMANTHA PARRA

 Take a look at any nutrition facts labels, and there is something you definitely won’t find: possible food poisoning triggers.

 However, the food industry’s convenient ignorance of the disease—that leads to 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year in the United States alone—properly highlights the negligence of food scientists.  

 And they know exactly what they are doing. Because, rather than looking to solve this food poisoning epidemic, they are looking for expensive and exclusive ways to combat the problem and pushing all responsibilities on the consumer. Not clear enough?

 Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a new way for the ordinary citizen to test food diseases by themselves. Of course, it’s no surprise that this method includes our ever-advancing smartphones.

 The product involves a free app, except it is not really free when one has to buy a thirty dollar microscopic attachment and portable chip to use the app.

 To use it, people must dip the chip into contaminated water and wait for about thirty minutes. Then, after attaching the microscope to the smartphone’s camera, they need to open the app and focus the microscope on the chip to look for the bacteria and match it with its respective disease.

 Although seen as a wonderful scientific breakthrough that combines both the “intellect” of today’s health scientists and the usefulness of our personal gadgets, this idea is truly disastrous.

 Perhaps the most questionable aspect of the decision to leave health control in the hands of the general public is the fact that scientists even have to take such a previously unforeseen leap.

 If health conditions of food were not so horrible today, scientists would not even have to engineer such an groundbreaking method of testing foods to begin with. Instead, they could have been looking to nip the problem at the bud, actively working to rid our foods of disease, rather than throwing together a thirty dollar package for us to do it ourselves.

 This says a lot about the success of the food industry’s propaganda.

 Had these food industries been able to maintain healthy products through clean working conditions, the challenge of turning scientific work into the hands of the public would never have arisen. What is now plain as day is that the true enemy in all of our country’s dreaded food poisoning dilemmas is, ironically, its very own food industry, which is supposed to protect the health of the country’s citizens by creating food in the first place.

 In fact, the food industry is so irresponsible that it has not even bothered to clean up the mess that it has made by producing unsafe foods. They have, instead, elected to leave the dirty work to the scientists.

 And this brings another big problem into the picture.

 The technology that will be used to analyze bacterial disease will need to be purchased, which means that many people will not buy it. Either people will feel that it is an optional thing and that it is unnecessary because they have not had severe food poisoning before, or people will simply not be able to afford the product.

 Regardless of the reason, scientists should realize that by letting the problem of food health run loose in the public, they are essentially throwing the problem away and labeling the issue a virtual “free-for-fall.”

 And this sheds much-needed light on the state of public perception of the food industry.

 There is something inherently wrong with the idea that it is okay to commend a scientific innovation that does nothing to solve a major health crisis, but instead hands off all responsibility off to the inexperienced citizen. There is something inherently wrong with the idea that social advancement is a thirty dollar kit and if one cannot afford an elaborate test, then oh well. It is ironic that people are heralding this new product as a great step towards better health, when it does little to solve the fundamental problem of food poisoning, if at all.

 If scientists were truly looking out for the public’s safety, they would have continued research rather than leaving it open for the people to fend for themselves, leaving those who may not be able to maintain their safety to stay disadvantaged.

 Clearly, scientists feel that they have much better things to do than to solve a health crisis, so they have also pushed the problem away. This way, they can stop worrying about a major problem in society and move onto more exciting explorations.

 Only, this time, it will not be pushed toward another specialized branch. Instead, all of the grunt work is thrown onto the shoulders of average citizens who know virtually nothing about food poisoning or bacteria in general.   

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