I cringe every single time I see another food recall. It seems to happen often lately. Romaine lettuce, hamburger…even dog food! And every single time it’s gut wrenching.
Every. Single Time.
We live in a time of food prosperity with one of the largest and safest food supplies in all of human history. Farmers are pretty proud of that–it’s both an honor and humbling to be part of it. So it’s disheartening when we hear something has gone wrong and food is the culprit.
The recalls don’t always stem from something that happened on the farm. Often the contamination occurs after we’ve shipped the product for processing or retail. And with such a complex food system, it can be hard to identify the cause.
But let’s keep something in mind: food recalls demonstrate that our food-safety system is working.
No, seriously. Food contamination has always existed. And people have always been exposed to food poisoning. But with our modern regulatory system, we’re able to quickly identify the food causing the problem, where that food came from, and the extent to which that product is compromised. We’re able to issue recalls and warnings quickly and effectively, reducing the number of people at risk.
Could it be better? Of course. Would it be better if we didn’t have to recall anything ever? Definitely. But that’s just not the world we live in. And until we can reach perfection (hint: we can’t), we’re actually doing pretty well.
And I fully recognize that such an assurance does nothing for those impacted. It doesn’t raise the dead. It doesn’t heal people. It doesn’t undo the hurt. It doesn’t even rebuild the shattered trust and confidence.
Yet we still have the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. We’re still blessed beyond measure with good, quality, nutritious food. And that’s something all of us can be happy about.
It also doesn’t have to be in vain. Let’s use the food recalls to identify the problem, fix it, and do better going forward. Government, farm groups, and farmers can work together to establish safer food-safety measures on the farm. Consumers should use it as a reminder that food safety is still important, even in 2018. People should always practice safe-handling methods. Something as simple as washing your hands, washing your food, and cooking things properly can make a big difference.
No one should get sick from eating food. Especially not food from a U.S. farm. But it happens. And it sucks. We can and should learn from it. We should also remember that we’re still incredibly blessed to have such an amazing food supply available to us.