The food safety net just showed us another huge tear as the result of contaminated peanut butter products. The problem will be felt for years in the peanut industry and will likely change the food safety landscape in many ways.
The government reaction has been harsh and focused in this latest deadly outbreak. More government action means more regulation, and as yet, we have not seen any sweeping changes, but they are likely to come. For the first time we have the highest level of government showing concern, namely the White House. The One Big Agency concept keeps emerging and it is good to examine why proponents believe it is necessary, namely reducing duplication and closing gaps. There is also the idea that policy on food safety could come from one office. We now also have possible criminal behavior on the part of one of the food industry, and the legal consequences of causing an outbreak are becoming clearer and deeper. On the positive side, in this latest crisis there is a real sense of openness for change.
The foodborne outbreaks caused by once thought harmless items such as peanut butter has been the icing on the cake for a very mean period in the history of food safety. It is ironic that at the time the food safety concept is rapidly growing, the hazards keep building against controls.
The question is what we are going to do about it; what do we do before something like this happens again? We have had in the past a vacuum as far as any true leadership to get us out of the problem. Its been a long time since there were any definitive changes in the way we do food safety and there is real room for improvement. So what are we going to do prevent the next outbreak? Do we call for more reforms? Is this the same pattern of business as usual or do we expect something a little bit more decisive from government after peanuts?
Obama joins calls for improving US food safety regime:
Peanut butter may get ‘high risk’ designation as government tightens oversight of food makers