3 Comments on the Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak

Is the FDA doing enough?

Is the government, and more specifically the FDA, doing its best to protect us from poisoned food? With the resources at hand, maybe. But perhaps it’s not enough. Here’s why, based on the handling of the current PBS (peanut butter salmonella) situation:

The FDA can only recommend product recalls, not mandate them. And so, it is at the discretion of each and every manufacturer to decide if, what, and when to recall. Why do consumers need to hear each day of 10 new products being recalled, instead of having all 500 (or more) recalled immediately?

Salmonella can survive in peanut butter’s fatty environment for months. This means that people may have bought a product last month, that will be recalled tomorrow or in 5 weeks.  Worried consumers are not buying any peanut butter based products now, and this is ultimately going to hurt the food manufacturers. Had all potentially suspect products been recalled immediately, shoppers could continue to buy other products safe and sound.

Corporate responsibility

As of yesterday the FDA has singled out one Georgia factory as the source of salmonella. All companies who have received peanut butter and peanut paste from this factory in the past 6 months should immediately issue a recall on all products they have produced with the tainted peanut butter. Each of these companies surely must have records tracking which peanut butter went where, right? Right ?!

Could this tracking information be  incomplete, missing, or simply non-existent?

In the industrialized food reality of today, where a product can have 35 ingredients sourced from 20 suppliers in 12 countries, a good logistical database is a must. We certainly have the technology. Do corporations have the will?

Consumer Information

The FDA’s website is a good source of information on the current situation. However, for a crisis that is evolving literally by the hour, consumers have come to expect more frequent updates.

Hello (!), this is a post web 2.0 society – Youtube videos, twitter updates, facebook, and at a bare minimum – show us pictures of the recalled products, nobody can remember some of these products’ full names.

Here’s the Current Recall List:

46 Recalls, over 150 products as of early Saturday morning Jan 24.

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