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.

  • John

    Sure, growers COULD do all that, but it would only last one season. They would be bankrupt by next season. Those things are all very expensive, but consumers/retailers/repackers would not be willing to pay any extra for the produce to help offset those costs. The farmers would eat the cost, while the consumers eat the cheap contaminated garbage coming in from Mexico/China/etc. Everybody in America loses, while foreign importers get to laugh all the way to bank. Oh, and by buying Mexican produce, you are DIRECTLY supporting the drug/murder cartels who all demand “protection” money from those farmers. Buying Mexican produce = directly supporting terrorism.

  • Jim Schmidt

    It would be nice. The issue I see is getting big money out of the picture. All the big lobby groups would fight this tooth and nail. I see John’s response already, seems like a lobbyist response. I would say, how much more money would you lose if you got someone sick? How much money did the tomato farmers lose? How much money did the spinach farmers lose?
    Well, business never looks at the long term goal and in term neither does government because we are now run by big business. Frustrating.

  • Nice list–just goes to show how many players are involved when it comes to ensuring food safety. That’s great that you include employee benefits and getting them involved so food safety remains a high priority. I’d also like to add to the list “whistleblower protections.” Government inspectors (who in a recent survey were shown to largely agree that whistleblower rights would produce safer foods) and industry employees need a safe space to speak out against violations of food integrity without fearing retaliation. To take action and learn more about this issue, please check out GAP’s new food campaign website at food.whistleblower.org!