business news in context, analysis with attitude

Continued reaction to the salmonella-contaminated peanut butter scandal…

MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

Here are the uncontested facts of the case so far:

1) Management of this plant is criminally negligent and deserved whatever is coming to them and more
2) Our Food Safety government agencies are not getting the job done

Here is the part of the story that baffles me:

1) Where were the Quality Departments for companies like Kellogg’s, Little Debbie, etc? How can these companies be buying key ingredients for their products without inspecting the source of the product? It is the responsibility of the brands to defend their equity. Manufacturers need to be responsible for the ingredients they purchase.

There is more to a good supplier relationship than price.

Another MNB user wrote:

What's the difference between the thug who shoots someone in a convenience store robbery and the execs of a company who ship a food product with known contamination that can be lethal? I'm thinking not much. Let's treat 'em the same and see highly publicized names, shame and jail for these morons.

MNB user Dale Tillotson wrote:

Kevin, your normally politically correct constructive criticisms were well put aside in your comments on peanut hell.

This brings up another point. What the hell good is country of origin labeling doing to protect us when the country we must fear the most as far as food consumption goes is our own?

I’m politically correct?

MNB user Jeff Koeze wrote:

My view is that all the talk of structural reform and major overhauls of the food safety system are a distraction from the real issue. The existing system, if inspection, inspector training, and some research were well-funded, can work and work well. The fundamental problem is that economic incentives (in the form of downward pressure on prices) to cheat have increased hugely over twenty years at the same time funding for basic food safety has decreased.

To give one example, lots of folks are arguing that food safety activities of the USDA and the FDA should be combined in a new agency. That might be a good idea, but it had no role in causing problems at PCA. My fear is that we will get a combined agency or other "reforms" that will give the impression of fixing the problem but with the same lousy funding. And sad to say, there are plenty of people in the food business who would be fine with that.

And another MNB user wrote:

I agree the FDA and other governmental oversight agencies have been stripped of their ability to protect American citizens…but, even if they were at full strength and capability, they still would not be able to catch all companies that are run by unscrupulous people. America must regain her morals and it starts with every citizen. Where were the whistle blowers at PCA, where was middle management, where was line management? Would anybody have listened to them at the FDA…state of Georgia?


Last week, I had the opportunity to premier a new video, Gone Fishing: Food Safety In A Global Supply Chain, at the annual CIES International Food Safety Conference. The folks at JohnsonDiversey, which sponsored the video, have agreed to make a copy available to any member of the MNB community who wants one.

If you’re interested, just send me an email with your name, title, company and address…and I’ll pass that information on to JohnsonDiversey, and they’ll send the video out.

KC's View: