Peanut-gate: Will consumers still trust American food – your views

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The salmonella contamination of peanut products has brought American food safety under scrutiny causing some to question the value of the Made In America brand.

Over the past week, we have been asking industry and readers to share their views.

Below is a selection of attributed responses.

“PCA is a poster-child for this sad pattern of eight years of removing effective food safety regs and inspections.

“But you can take to the bank that the process of restoring the safety brigades all across the board here will be aggressive. So we will bounce back, as the Obama team is fleshed out and settles into place in the government agencies.

“Will PCA damage the US rep for clean foods? Sure. Moms REALLY care about what their families eat, and Moms do the shopping. It does not matter if the Moms are American or French or Brazilian or Chinese or Saudi. Peanut butter sales here have nose-dived (except for organic!).”

Dun Gifford, President, Oldways, Boston, USA.

“As a food manufacturer, safety is our primary concern. I have been following this matter with special interest for that reason.

“In 2007 there was also a well published recall of tahini (sesame butter) due to a salmonella issue. We manufacture the same product and are constantly put under pressure from some of our clients to compare ours against cheaper offerings from overseas.

“Usually those manufacturers do not follow the same sanitary standards that we are supposed to follow here. Imported food goes through customs only with randomized quality checks. The American consumer should learn that by saving money in a foreign, dubious quality food product, it might be putting its health and that of its family at risk.

“The US Food Industry may have some flaws like the PCA story, but in general, it follows quality and sanitation standards that are by far better than imported food staples that we buy only because of the price, totally ignoring the conditions on which they were made.”

Leopoldo Cruz, Dipasa USA, Inc.

“As a careful shopper, I already buy locally-raised produce, when possible. I avoid products from China and produce grown outside the USA. And I am momentarily more mindful of food contamination, since “peanut-gate”, because this is a recurring issue.

USA problems have ranged from the recent “salad-gate” spinach and tomato fiascos to a decades-old botulism scare, involving canned mushrooms. But, I can't grow my own food, so, in the end, I must surrender to the American supermarket crapshoot, and hope for the best.”

C.B. McCrossin, Margate, Florida, USA.

“Hopefully this will point out the need for a revamping of the USDA- FDA relationship and move towards a coordinated group specifically working with the food industry and make the inspection function much better spread among all industries to help keep the food supply safe and effective. It always comes back to the company having the desire to do the right things for the right reasons and not cutting corners, which will eventually catch up to them.”

Earl C Christiansen, Manager of Technical Services, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc.

“…As the DEMAND for safe food grows, I expect a SUPPLY of foods certified to be safe to grow too. It remains to be seen which “certifications” win over consumer confidence, and why.

“When consumers lose confidence in big business’s food (big brands), they will look for those foods produced and offered for sale by small business and ma and pa. And if processed foods are perceived as big business, I expect consumers actively search for minimally processed foods, again produced and offered for sale closer to home.

“Already the retail brands for fresh fruits and produce sell more than the major brands. Few consumers are aware that for the most part, their retailer brands originate with the same big brands anyway.

“I’d wager that the number of acres planted for home vegetable gardens blossoms in 2009, along with the sale of new devices for disinfecting ready to eat produce and the like.”

Thomas Johnson, President, Johnson Diversified Products, Inc.



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