Investing in Food Safety – Why You Cannot
Afford Not To
I was quoted the other
day in USA Today about investing in food safety BEFORE an outbreak happens
that sickens hundreds and drives your business and others into the ground:
“It's a good investment, says Bill Marler, a prominent Seattle-based
food-safety lawyer who has already filed eight lawsuits against PCA. 'You
always worry that you'll spend $2,000 more a month to do testing, but if
that $2,000 can save from going bankrupt or losing hundreds of millions of
dollars, it's a cheap investment.'"
PCA, (Peanut Corporation
of America), now facing criminal sanctions is now bankrupt, costing
hundreds of people their jobs and according to the Georgia Peanut
Commission, “the outbreak may cost peanut producers $1 billion in lost
production and sales.” As of April 3, 3883 different peanut containing
products have been recalled from some 200 companies. Recall costs are in
the hundreds of millions of dollars and some of those companies have also
filed for bankruptcy. Peanut product exports have fallen. At a time when
our economy is on its knees, this is all clearly an unnecessary waste.
And, then there are the
victims, to date the CDC has reported nearly 700 ill with 150 hospitalized
and nine deaths. Costs, perhaps incalculable.
Bottom Line, PCA’s
Georgia and Texas peanut manufacturing facilities were seldom inspected,
rat and bird infested that leaked when it rained. How much would it have
cost to keep the rats, birds and rain out? How much would it have cost to
inspect the plants? How much would it have cost to test finished products
for bacteria that could kill customers? My guess, perhaps tens of thousands
over many years.
Whatever the cost, my
hunch is it would have been a lot less than the illnesses, deaths,
bankruptcies, job losses and prison time.