Appalling seems to be the right word!
This last week I was reading Joan Murphy’s article in Produce News Daily, “Dates set for industry meetings on new cantaloupe guidance document,” with some measure of hope until I got to the last line:
The meetings are open to growers, buyers, auditors, academic experts, as well as regulators from state agencies, the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are not open [to] the public.
I mean, why the hell would the public be invited – especially the victims? Really, why even bother with the 146 sickened and the 36 — yes, 36, not 30 or 32 — who died? What might the families impacted by the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in the United States in the last 100 years have to say? I wonder how inconvenient it would be to look consumers in the eye. I wonder how uncomfortable the industry and government would feel to hear the stories of two of my clients who shared three WWII Purple Hearts between them, but died from eating cantaloupe?
Excluding consumers is both shameful and stupid.
The people attending the meetings – especially public servants – should demand that the families be present and offered an opportunity to speak about just how important the jobs of the “growers, buyers, auditors, academic experts, as well as regulators from state agencies, the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture” truly are.
And, please, do not tell me that using the term “buyer” means consumer when you also say that the meetings are not open to the public.
The meetings will be held:
• March 29-30 in Phoenix
• April 26-27 in Western Growers Association headquarters in Irvine, CA
• May 30-31 in Southeast region
• June 20-21 in Denver
Call me: 1-206-346-1890. I will give you the phone numbers of people very interested in what you are talking about and very willing to attend.