Monday, July 21, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Much Ado About... well, nothing it seems.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy says (and I paraphrase) that the Universe is so large -- so incredibly big, I mean really big, that is to say mind-blowingly huge beyond comprehension -- that is to say it's so completely vast that if you were to take the measure of it and divide the population of the universe by it, you would get a number so incredibly small as to be statistically insignificant -- that is to say, for all practical purposes: zero. So statistically, the Universe has a population of zero -- which doesn't really affect those that live there, but there you have it.

Now, much angst has been spent over the past summer months on the lack of edible tomatoes -- that is to say, ones not purportedly teeming with salmonella or e-coli... so much so, that much energy has been put into finding out why some 100 or so people have gotten sick. And it turns out that tomatoes may not have been the problem -- now the lidless eye of the FDA has turned to: peppers... or maybe cilantro... or maybe, whatever. We may never know exactly.

Which brings me back to the first point: statistics.

I know that the people involved (getting sick, vomiting, diareah, etc.) haven't had a great time of it -- BUT -- according to the CDC's own statistics: 14-17 people per 100,000 per year can be expected to get salmonella poisoning. A similar figure awaits those from e-coli... and add an additional heap for listeria and other water & food-borne pathogens.

In a population the size of the U.S., that means in any given year -- we can expect upwards of 50,000 people to get sick from salmonella alone... with a total of 150,000 people a year getting sick from eating food. (the majority of which came from a restaurant)

So is this overblown or what?


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