Those of us in the food industry certainly remember the salmonella outbreak that hit California spinach farmers in 2006. Shortly before the recall was announced, we had just catered a large coastal wedding, where the bride was adamant about having a spinach salad for all 200 guests. While luckily the outbreak didn’t include our organic spinach salad, it was still our responsibility to notify the newly married couple of possible contamination. Trust me – it wasn’t a fun phone call.
It seems, though, that the salmonella outbreak really started a storm of food recalls that hasn’t stopped. In a February 2009 survey, 92% of Americans are aware, and greatly concerned, about the increasing food safety problems plaguing the US food supply. Hot on the heels of the recent peanut butter recall, just over 2,000 adults nationwide were interviewed on their food safety concerns – and the results were very interesting indeed.
- 93% of adults say food manufacturers, growers or suppliers should be held legally responsible when individuals are fatally sickened by tainted food.
- 61% of those polled feel that the food recall process in particular is only sub-par, rating it fair to poor.
- 82% believe that the food industry should be required to follow international standards on food safety.
- Less than half of those polled, only 48%, trust the government’s ability to oversee food safety.
One statistic that really jumped out at me – nearly 73% of those polled felt that food safety was equally as important as the war on terror!
Will the new Obama government finally bump food safety to the top of the priority list? According to today’s NY Times, they’re at least paying attention. After nearly two dozen food safety hearings over the last year, on everything from pet food to tomatoes, representatives from both parties promised yesterday at a House hearing to address the long list of FDA shortcomings, including the possibility of splitting the agency into two separate entities, with one focused entirely on food safety.
“We have before us one of the finest messes in history,” said Representative John D. Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, who accused both Congress and the White House of allowing the F.D.A. to become incompetent.
“As a result of the failure of giving Food and Drug the resources it needs,” Mr. Dingell continued, “people are dying.”
Let’s hope the right people are finally paying attention. Are you concerned about your food safety? Make your voice heard! Lobby your local Representatives about the importance of food safety in your hometown.