I spent most of last week in the “other Washington.” It all does make you wonder, as one Congressman quipped some time ago: “Who needs Al-Qaeda when you have got E. coli?” What would happen if we stopped the petty bickering and actually did something about food safety like:
1. Develop and implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-based systems (and if you can’t have HACCP on the farm, say HACCP-based);
2. Conduct microbial testing on soils, water and product on a routine basis;
3. Develop a product coding system down to the unit package level (bag, clamshell) allowing rapid trace back;
4. Support mandatory regulation of the produce industry at federal, state and local levels; and,
5. Support research to determine the critical values for the safety of food, water, air and soils in farming operations.
1. Improve Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point systems;
2. Create a culture of food safety and sanitation within the firm;
3. Institute a profit-sharing model to engage employees fully in the health and well-being of the organization;
4. Require all suppliers of raw materials to have HACCP systems in place; and,
5. Audit yourself and your suppliers.
1. Train and certify managers and train employees in food safety;
2. Create a culture of food safety within the firm;
3. Provide frontline management with the authority, not just the responsibility, for food safety;
4. Provide a line-item budget for food safety; and,
5. Provide accessible health insurance for employees.
1. Build win-win industry partnerships while maintaining autonomy to independently protect public health;
2. Provide an outsourced system to maintain inspection schedules, shift cost to industry;
3. Require all operators of all food-related businesses to have a valid, verifiable food safety management system;
4. Develop and implement science-based auditing techniques moving away from the poke-and-sniff inspection models; and,
5. Apply risk assessment to identify high-risk operations for more intensive interventions and strengthen surveillance.
1. Support consumer activist organizations that base their platforms on science and public health protection;
2. Become more knowledgeable about food safety;
3. Use a thermometer when cooking and do not undercook or consume raw high-risk foods such as ground beef, seafood, and chicken;
4. Demand that restaurants be graded for food safety and that the grades be posted; and,
5. Support your federal, state and local governments’ efforts in food safety regulation and vote for candidates who value public health protection.
I know, this is not perfect and there are things to complain about, but it is better than doing nothing, which is what we are doing now.