On a day that another politician, this time the Florida Governor, said: "we continue to have the safest food supply in the world;" on a day that I finally get one of my Op-eds published, thanks goes to Undersecretary for Food Safety (FSIS) Richard Raymond, and Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ed Schafer for announcing plans to tell the public which grocery stores and other retailers have received tainted meat during “Class I” recalls. Consumers now can finally be told if their local grocery store got tainted meat during a recall. Under the new rule, which is expected to be published next week and take effect 30 days later, retailers’ names will be posted on the Agriculture Department Web site during so-called "Class I" meat and poultry recalls – those deemed to pose a definite public health risk.
So, Secretaries, I have one more idea – why not make "Non-compliance Reports" ("NRs") public and online. Let the public see how well, or badly, some of your inspected facilities are operating. I think if you had on line Establishment 19336’s (a.k.a Nebraska Beef, Ltd) NRs from 2002, perhaps the illnesses and deaths from 2006 and 2008 would not have happened.
OK, one more "beef." A few days ago USDA spokesman Amanda Eamich said that Nebraska Beef’s plan "satisfies concerns raised after the meat was linked to an E. coli outbreak." However, "she would not discuss the details of the changes Nebraska Beef had proposed." Boy, given that a few days before that she said that "Nebraska Beef responded slowly to indications that its products might be tainted with E. coli," and that "Nebraska Beef was notified in the first half of June that two samples of its trim to be used in ground beef had tested positive for E. coli," and that "the establishment didn’t take appropriate actions when positives were found," you would think that this whole process would be a little more transparent?
Perhaps we need another press conference? Or, two?
Perhaps the presidential candidates need to read: "Tainted Food: How To Combat Food Poisoning in the United States? Mr. McCain, Mr. Obama, are You Paying Attention?"