Food Safety Incidents and Their Collateral Damage

June 16, 2012

We read about the number of people that get sick and the tragic deaths coming from food safety incidents.  This is about the damaged lives of the food safety and production professionals who were the troops on the ground at the time of the incident.

In 1985 Jewel permanently closes it dairy that had been supplying 25% of Chicago’s milk.  Their salmonella outbreak had sickened 18,000 people in 6 states.  One of the dairy’s production managers after a year out of work finally found a job on the sanitation crew of a juice company.  Two of his sons had to drop out of college.  With over twenty years of production management experience he had become a pariah as far as the dairy industry was concerned.

 In 1996 a little girl dies and several become ill drinking E coli O157:H7 contaminated apple juice from Odwalla.  Ten years later, the guy that was their Quality Assurance Manager is still stumbling around trying to find a real job.  Things did not go a whole lot better for this guy’s boss.    

 In 2005 Orchid Island, a small juice company in Florida makes 11 people in Michigan sick with Salmonellosis and there’s a recall, lawsuits etc.  The QA Manager is out looking for a job but of course no one is hiring.

 All of this could have been written with moral outrage.  These innocent or maybe not so innocent food safety and production professionals weren’t calling the shots, approving the budgets, setting the policies, etc.  It’s unfair that their lives were damaged but no one says things must be fair.  This wasn’t written to discourage people from food safety careers or to get those in food safety roles to get out.  It was written as a thing for consideration for all those food safety and production professionals at the crossroads between championship and complacency.

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Further Food Safety Budget Cuts

June 9, 2012

When is the Federal Government going to put their money where their mouth is?  Or more aptly when are they going to put our money where our mouths are?  The 2013 budget for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is $996 Million down $9 Million from 2012.  The FDA’s Food Safety and Applied Nutrition hold their own at $866 Million, same as last year.    Using the government’s own numbers, the Center for Disease Control says 48,000,000 get sick, 128,000 go to the hospital, and 3,000 die because of food-borne diseases.  Budget cuts, what are they thinking?