Producers Resort to Saddling Consumers with Food Safety

 

Food writer and Gourmet Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl was up in arms last week over a recent New York Times article noting that many food companies are now placing the responsibility of food safety on their consumers.

According to the Times article, companies like ConAgra, who experienced a recent food recall with their Banquet pot pies, have essentially resorted to wiping their hands of food safety responsibility by adding new ‘food safety’ instructions to their packaging. Other food manufacturers, such as Nestle and the Blackstone Group, are taking the same route, conceding that they cannot guarantee food safety in their products.

Consumers, as well as those within the food industry, are outraged by the passive take on food safety.

Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said companies like ConAgra were asking too much. “I do not believe that it is fair to put this responsibility on the back of the consumer, when there is substantial confusion about what it means to prepare that product,” Dr. Osterholm said.

Surprisingly, much of the difficulty in ensuring food safety lies within the food production industry itself. While there has been discussion about developing a stronger ‘food passport’, ensuring food safety at each level of production from harvest to final distribution, some groups within the industry, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, feel as though the production information is ‘unnecessary’ and often ‘not practical or possible to provide.’

No wonder Reichl was appalled at these recent developments! It’s absolutely outrageous to assume that it’s the consumer’s responsibility to ensure food safety! Shame shame, big companies.

Be a savvy consumer! How can you ensure food safety within your home?

  1. Boycott companies that can’t guarantee the safety of their food products, like ConAgra, Nestle, and others!
  2. Utilize locally grown organic and natural food products within your home.
  3. If you don’t own one, purchase a food thermometer, and become familiar with food temperature requirements, from storage to cooking.
  4. Become an educated food advocate! Learn where your food is produced, how it’s produced, and how you can ensure food safety for yourself and your community!

~Jennifer Heigl

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