Processed food companies: Food safety is the consumer’s job

Perhaps the only time we'll agree with Michael Osterholm: Mega food companies like ConAgra, whose frozen chicken pot pies sickened over 15,000 people two years ago, are giving up the ghost and admitting they have no idea where many of their ingredients come from nor how they've been handled. Sound like a food safety nightmare? It is, but companies are increasingly pushing the burden of dealing with it onto consumers. ConAgra now instructs pot-pie eaters to heat the product in a conventional oven and measure the temperature "with a food thermometer in several spots" to ensure that it reaches 165 degrees. (The Times tried and failed to achieve the required temp - and if Andy Martin did this experimentation in his kitchen, we'd like pictures.) (New York Times)

4 Responsesto “Processed food companies: Food safety is the consumer’s job”

  1. Jenni P. says:

    That'll be a surprise to my friend who claims that chicken pot pies are the hottest substance in the known universe.

  2. Rob Smart says:

    Wow! I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, but given my latest blog post on why "local" is challenging (threatening) industrial food, ConAgra's inability to trace the source of ingredients in its processed food products doesn't bode well.

    Read more: http://everytable.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/10-reasons-why-%e2%80%9clocal%e2%80%9d-is-challenging-industrial-food/

    Cheers,

    Rob Smart
    a.k.a., Jambutter on Twitter

  3. I am... speechless... Really? Industrial food providers have no idea where the ingredients in their processed food really come from? That's... incredible... mind-boggling... such a let down! (I don't know how to do sarcasm in print, so I should just stop here - lest somebody takes me seriously).

    Sarcasm aside, the admission is interesting indeed - not the least because USDA continues to want to impose NAIS on all animals for traceability purpose and disease prevention. NAIS won't help either stated goals - not when one feed-lot cattle ends up in million of burgers because it's all mingled with millions of other feed-lot cattle. It won't help either in the case of chicken, since it would be  one ID for a whole chicken factory farm batch of chicken (which is 10,000s of chicken) (vs.  one ID for each chicken in a small flock - talk about inequity!)

    If it's up to the consumer to be responsible for the safety of their food (a statement I don't disagree with, by the way), then it's time for the consumer to bypass the mammoth agro-industrial complex and turn to local sources whenever possible - and re-educate themselves about where their food is coming from and how it is raised, harvested and processed (or slaughtered).

  4. I'm rather surprised. Working on our HACCP, SSOP and Food Defense I find it rather hard to imagine that ConAgra can't get their act together. It is also hard to understand why they're allowed to do this... Oh, wait, I figured it out... money talks.