By Drew Arnold, Assistant Account Executive, H&K Northwest
The ability to cook and eat good food is one of my highest priorities. I am grateful that I have the luxury to know how to cook great meals. My skills in the kitchen were developed the same way many of us learn how to cook – through family experiences and recipes passed down, modified and savored. The act of eating is, if not spiritual, at least a private moment. It is often anchored with family and friends.
Consider though the massive industries in place that allow the food to be delivered from farm to fork. Recently these industries have been under scrutiny following food contamination and gross negligence; a far cry from a romanticized dinner setting.
Increased government scrutiny has led to bills that are being considered in Congress to revamp the U.S. food safety system. These changes will lead to the largest overhaul of the country’s food safety system since FDR. Take a look at a bill that passed the House here, and a great summary from the Packer here.
Some critics are worried about increased government involvement and the take-on costs farm businesses would have to endure. Indeed, food producers will have to pay fees to support an infrastructure to monitor the safety of the country’s food. Producers that maintain stellar safety records might see this added cost as an unnecessary burden.
I wish we didn’t need this legislation; that food producers would always have the health of their customers as a top priority, and that food safety records were always stellar. Companies need to be safer about the shipping of food into the supply chain. Examples such as Peanut Corporation of America knowingly ship tainted food into the chain is the very reason we stand in this position today.
Recognizing PCA is an exception, not the rule, it seems to me that an infrastructure feeding every American every day needs exceptional oversight. Even food that is unknowingly tainted and shipped is not acceptable. Concern should be focused on the little things, like mom’s sauce, not whether a child can be poisoned by a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.
The question remains: how to best balance the internal inspections and burdens on companies while giving the government the responsibility to keep our food supply safe.
This will be a debate that continues into the fall, and it will be interesting to see what Congress cooks up.