Friday, April 01, 2005

Thank You, Jesus, for the Salmonella!

Dear Internet Diary,

From Christianity Today:

U.S. churches are facing more and more legal hurdles to holding potlucks.

In Minnesota, potlucks are exempt from food safety inspections only if food is not prepared in the kitchen. In Wisconsin, a church that holds more than 12 public food events a year may be required to obtain a restaurant license.

The Iowa Food Policy Council notes, "Annual and one-time events, like potlucks, can be particularly susceptible to becoming the source of an outbreak." The council lists four reasons: (1) food left at room temperature for too long; (2) inadequate food preparation; (3) inadequate food storage or heating; and (4) the presence of large numbers of people.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is aiming to cut the rate of food-borne disease by 50 percent by 2010, food-borne illnesses affected 76 million Americans in 2000. Most cases start in private homes, not at potlucks or restaurants. From 1990 to 1995, the CDC linked only 2,865 cases to churches, for an average of 477.5 cases per year. CDC spokeswoman Christine Pearson told CT, "Our recommendations for people would be the same regardless of whether they are at a church potluck, restaurant, [or] city picnic."

It seems that these churches are complaining over a 25 dollar a year fee to get their kitchens inspected. What's the big deal? Are they mad that church ladies have to take the 4-hour food handler course? Or are they mad because the bible doesn't say anything about germ theory? I can't help but be amused by these complaints about over-zealous government intrusion upon religion, when most of these people think that the Faith-Based Initiative is just wonderful. If they want to let the government into their churches, they're going to have to realize that it's not leaving after the ambrosia salad is served.

I have fond memories of church potlucks. Looking back it seems like the only aspect about church I can joke about with christians. It's that lime-jello with the Miracle Whip on top, the sliced bananas and the green grapes in suspended animation inside a whimsical Bundt-Cake mold. We know that church lady put a lot of love into that Jell-O Mold. And probably some coliform, too. Now that I think about it, I wasn't the only one in my family to suffer the consequences of those foil-covered tuna hot dishes. Perhaps if the churches want to keep their congregations coming, they should pay the damned 25 bucks and wear those plastic gloves!

Thanks for listening, diary.

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