Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Importance of Redundancy

On December 18, 2011, a ten-day old baby in Missouri died from Cronobacter sakazakii infection. Cronobacter is literally everywhere (in water and also wheat, powdered milk, rice, and other foods). Most of us are exposed to Cronobacter frequently, but our immune systems are strong enough to fight it off. However, premature babies, infants, and some people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of this disease. The infection that killed the baby was believed to have originated in powdered Enfamil Newborn formula. This caused Wal-Mart and other stores to promptly pull the formula from their shelves beginning December 23, 2011.

Mead Johnson (makers of Enfamil) said the formula was tested before it was shipped and was found negative for the bacteria. The FDA and USDA then stepped in and, after extensive testing, announced today that the infection did not originate in the Enfamil formula and that the formula is, indeed, safe. They are currently investigating other potential sources of the infection that killed this baby and sickened more.

This episode really emphasizes how important redundancy should be in any food storage program. What if, while trying to be a conscientious parent, you had purchased a large supply of Enfamil formula, only to find out that it might not be safe? What would you have fed your infant in the eight days it took for the formula to be tested and found to be safe?

Most preppers (anyone who believes in being prepared for any number of potential calamities) believe in the “Rule of Three.” That is, always have three ways to do anything. Have three ways to store water, three ways to cook, three ways to grind grain, and, in this case, have three different kinds of formula on hand for your baby. How redundant are your preparations?

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