interesting article in the New York Times explores the sad state of food safety today. As
more and more food manufacturers look to global suppliers, and as the
supply chain becomes more complex, safety is often overlooked or simply
becomes too difficult to oversee. The article looks to the salmonella
food contamination outbreak in 2007 that involved ConAgra Foods’
Banquet brand frozen pot pies. Some 15,000 people purportedly got sickened
by the pot pies, and though ConAgra conducted studies and tests to try
to pinpoint the culprit, the company never identified the contaminating
ingredient. So what did ConAgra do? It decided to place the responsibility
of killing any contaminants or pathogens in the frozen pot pies on the
consumer. Instructions prompt the consumer to heat the pot pies until
the internal temperature reaches 165 F in order to ensure food safety.
I don’t know about you, but it has never occurred to me to take
a food thermometer to a frozen pot pie.
Many suppliers do not check for contaminants, nor are they required to.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture demands that producers make sure that
any and all pathogens would be killed if consumers follow the cooking
instructions on the packaging. But is this enough? Should more be done?
Apparently some believe so, as lawsuits against ConAgra regarding the
pot pie outbreak have been filed.