Live from NMA: Industry execs call for unity on
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
By Lisa M.
Keefe on 2/24/2009
LAS VEGAS — The need to speak with one
voice on the issue of food safety and to address the issue proactively was
the theme running through the various presentations during the general
session of the National Meat Association's MeatXpo
'08 convention in Las Vegas.
"This industry has to work together to face these issues. This bickering
among ourselves has to quit," said JBS-Swift spokesman Chandler Keys during the 10- to 15-minute
"bullet session" presentations that comprised the general session
In the wake of a bad year for meat-related recalls and the opportunities and
challenges presented by a new Presidential administration, the pressure is on
the industry to rise to the occasion, these speakers said.
"In our industry we have to be accountable and creditable. We have to
have access [to federal and Congressional decision-makers] and we have to
manage the access credibly," Keys said.
There are further steps that processors can take to improve the safety of the
products leaving their facilities, the speakers said. Too often, industry
players blame others in the supply chain for problems, including consumers.
"Maybe it's time we have some open dialogues [on the issues related to
food safety] and conduct these discussions openly," said Kerri B.
Harris, president and CEO of International HACCP Alliance. "I hope that
13 years from now we won't still be having these conversations. I hope we can
do something as a group other than point fingers."
From the foodservice side, Dave Theno, retired
senior vice president, quality and logistics for Jack in the Box Inc., noted
that he joined the company shortly after its 1993 e.Coli
contamination crisis and helped build its improved food safety initiatives.
"All that we accomplished we did with full disclosure and
partnership," he said. "It's made things better, because we dared
to say, 'Why not?'
"The industry is full of reasons why you can't change," he went on.
"If you think food safety won't be the cornerstone issue [doing
forward], you're misinformed. It's in your hands. Why can't we do something