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Continued: Readers Write: (July 10): Oil transport, state budget, hiring ex-felons, antibiotics in food chain

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  • Last update: July 9, 2013 - 7:27 PM

HIRING EX-FELONS

Why employers need applicants’ records

As a 28-year veteran policeman and detective of a major metropolitan police department, I would like to offer the other side of coin when it comes to concealing that a job applicant is an ex-felon. Prospective employers must make informed decisions about whom they bring into their workplaces. Hopefully an ex-felon will have made an effort, especially through education, to be employable and will have earned a shot. However, contrary to examples used in the July 8 article “Both parties unite to give ex-felons a chance,” in my experience most felons have committed numerous crimes prior to a first arrest, let alone a felony conviction.

Most ex-felons have numerous arrests, with extensive rap sheets. Many have plea-bargained to lesser crimes. Many are career criminals who have terrorized their neighborhoods with drug dealing, drive-by shootings, murders, rapes, robberies and other antisocial deeds. Despite all the social programs offered to them, most have made little effort to improve their standing in society.

Sorry, but an employer must know more about an ex-felon job applicant, not less.

JAMES M. BECKER, Lakeville

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INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Antibiotics overused in the food chain

A June 28 editorial (“Mad as hell about food safety reform”) cited CDC statistics indicating that each year about 48 million Americans become ill, about 128,000 are hospitalized and about 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. This greatly underestimates the true foodborne disease burden by addressing only diarrheal disease. Many urinary tract infections and other nondiarrheal infections also are caused by foodborne E. coli. Such strains often are antibiotic-resistant, thanks to excessive antibiotic use in food-animal production, including for growth promotion and to prevent infections caused by unhealthy farming practices.

Food-animal antibiotic use occurs largely invisibly and without veterinary oversight, due to 1) current FDA regulations, and 2) pharmaceutical and agricultural industry reluctance to disclose food-animal antibiotic sales and use.

CDC authorities acknowledge the large burden of foodborne extraintestinal infections and are seeking ways to measure and reduce them. Meanwhile, citizens can act. They can urge lawmakers to ban antibiotics as food-animal growth promoters, to require veterinarian oversight of all food-animal antibiotic use (analogous to physician oversight of human antibiotic use) and to require industry to disclose more fully food-animal antibiotic use. Consumers also can patronize producers and retailers that have adopted antibiotic-free or reduced-antibiotics meat production, which clearly can be done without endangering animal health, meat quality or producer profits.

Dr. JAMES R. JOHNSON, St. Paul

The writer is a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.

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