Contaminated food kills, says Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, in The New York Times. In fact, every day 200,000 Americans are sickened, and every year the number of Americans killed by something they ate roughly equals the number of Americans who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. The human toll is magnified when you consider that "by far the most vulnerable group" is children under age 4. "Our food will never be perfectly safe — and yet if the Senate fails to pass the food safety legislation now awaiting a vote, tens of thousands of American children will become needlessly and sometimes fatally ill." So senators must be itching to step forward and cast a vote for the safety of our food, right? Think again. Here, an excerpt:

Food processors reluctant to oppose the bill openly will be delighted if it dies a quiet death. That’s because, right now, very few cases of food poisoning are ever actually linked to what the person ate, and companies that sell contaminated products routinely avoid liability. The economic cost is instead imposed on society. And it’s a huge cost. According to a recent study sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the annual health-related cost of food-borne illness in the United States is about $152 billion.

Without tough food safety rules, a perverse economic incentive guides the marketplace. Adulterated food is cheaper to produce than safe food. Since consumers cannot tell the difference between the two, companies that try to do the right thing are forced to compete with companies that couldn’t care less.

Read the full article at The New York Times.