…federal agents descended on Kraft’s offices near Chicago and confronted Mr. Watson. He admitted his role in a bribery scheme that has laid bare a startling vein of corruption in the food industry. And because the scheme also involved millions of pounds of tomato products with high levels of mold or other defects, the case has raised serious questions about how well food manufacturers safeguard the quality of their ingredients.
Over the last 14 months, Mr. Watson and three other purchasing managers, at Frito-Lay, Safeway and B&G Foods, have pleaded guilty to taking bribes. Five people connected to one of the nation’s largest tomato processors, SK Foods, have also admitted taking part in the scheme.
Okay, I lied. I have one comment. For all of this talk about deregulation in various industries, the one fact that is rarely talked about is that a percentage of people out there in the world are, quite frankly, unscrupulous bastards. Granted, it’s a small percentage, but it’s certainly high enough of them to put public safety at a greater risk.
So the choice of policies comes down to this. Place hope in the government to implement safety and legal measures that are easy to implement and don’t stifle competition and innovation? Or do we place hope that the industry doesn’t have people who would neither figuratively or literally put moldy tomatoes into the public food supply?
And people wonder why I don’t like talking about the food industry. With it being populated by folks like Robert Watson, it often comes across as a bleak and cynical place.