The firestorm of comments on my blog that have surrounded the recall, quarantine and destruction of cheese at Estrella and Morningland got me thinking once again of the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Organic Pastures in California. I have posted about that outbreak often (some would argue too often):
Several of the recent comments suggested the unfairness of the uncompensated destruction of the cheese – especially given that all of that cheese may or may not be contaminated with Listeria or other pathogens.
It is actually and interesting issue. Who should bear the financial burden in the recall? The company that may well have contaminated product – whether it be cheese, 550,000,000 eggs or millions of pounds of hamburger – or the public who is arguably being protected? Certainly in the past, industries – spinach and tomatoes as examples – have sought (and not received) compensation from the government (a.k.a. us taxpayers) to compensate them for being part of a recall that in hindsight may or may not have been completely necessary. Getting paid for a recall would take a bit of the sting out of recalling your product.
At least in a raw milk case, the State of California did compensate Organic Pastures for the milk destroyed in the recall in 2006 (whether the amount paid was fair may well be another story). See Attached. Of course Organic Pastures spun the State’s payment to it as an admission that the outbreak did not occur – which was not so – see above and below: