We're all going to die

By Joel Murphy

Imagine you score an invite to Sport's Illustrated's swimsuit edition party. You spend Valentine's Day drinking wine, eating food prepared by Wolfgang Puck's catering company and staring at beautiful ladies. Life couldn't be better. Then, a few weeks go by and you find out you might have Hepatitis, which seems odd to you because you are pretty sure you didn't hook up with Pamela Anderson at that party.

But no, Pamela Anderson isn't to blame (at least not this time). It turns out everyone who attended the Sport's Illustrated party is at risk for Hepatitis A, thanks to one of the caterers. If that doesn't sound gross enough, consider how Hepatitis A is actually spread: People infected with the disease shed viruses in their feces. Then if they aren't very hygienic, the virus can end up on their hands and spread onto any food that person is handling. The virus can also survive on things like doorknobs, telephones and tabletops for two to three hours at room temperature.

I don't know about the rest of you, but that news alone makes me want to become Adrian Monk (especially if I get to solve murder cases and hang out with the chick from Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place all day).

But it doesn't end there. Even if you aren't plugged into the Hollywood social scene, there is still a good chance that something you eat will kill you. After all, even something as innocent as peanut butter is now causing a national scare and not just for people who have peanut allergies ... which is something I never really understood. When the hell did people start becoming allergic to peanuts? You never heard of anyone having peanut allergies years ago. Why does it happen now? Mutant peanuts? Global warming? Where is George Washington Carver when you need him?

But, I digress ...

There has been an outbreak of salmonella in jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter. There were 370 cases of salmonella poisoning reported across 42 different states. The Food and Drug Administration traced the tainted peanut butter to a processing plant in Georgia.

Now, maybe Peter Pan isn't your preferred brand of peanut butter. So, you are probably safe, right? Think again. The FDA has now widened it's investigation and has found that some ice cream and peanut butter dessert topping may also contain salmonella-flavored peanut butter. Many of the Carvel ice cream cakes that have peanut butter in them may be contaminated (though thankfully, Fudgy the Whale is salmonella free).

Now, while some of you have already stopped reading this column and are now in your kitchen throwing away all of your peanut butter products and anything that might have been touched by a member of Wolfgang Puck's staff, some of you out there are probably shaking your head at my blatant fear-mongering and thinking that you are safe. You don't eat peanut butter or ice cream and you don't attend any parties with Beyoncé, so you have nothing to worry about. You probably exercise, eat right and even take your daily multivitamin. Surely you are safe, right?

Wrong. A new study published in the Feb. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that antioxidant vitamins may not actually benefit you. In fact, according to the study, certain vitamins may actually increase your risk of death - including beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E.

And these are just the latest health threats. I haven't even mentioning mad cow disease or bird flu or any of the other fun new diseases that pop up in the food we eat. Now, I certainly don't want to alarm anyone, but I think it's pretty clear - we are all going to by killed by the food we eat. You probably thought George Bush and his Iraq War would be the death of us, but it turns out it might just be that bag of Cheetos sitting in front of you.

So what should we do? Obviously, the best thing would be if the government stepped in to do a better job regulating the food we eat. But, let's be honest - that's never going to happen. We could all grow our own food or shop at hippie or kosher markets that actually put effort into making sure the food they sell is safe, but that seems like a big hassle as well. Besides, hippies scare me.

That's why I'm going to do my best to forget all about these stories and to continue eating all of the same stuff I was eating before. I'm going to go make myself a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich and for dessert I'm going to have one of those delicious Carvel ice cream cakes. After all, you only live once - you might as well enjoy it ... at least until you are stricken with salmonella poisoning or Hepatitis.

Random thought of the week:
John Travolta said that Scientology could have saved Anna Nicole Smith's life. That may be true, but I have trouble trusting the judgment of anyone who signed on to star in Wild Hogs.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He also has some really hot friends. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.