Know thy supplier

Andrew Bridges of the Associated Press writes in a wire story today that companies increasingly are paying others to make the foods we eat — or the ingredients in them — and then selling it under multiple brand names, prompting a growing debate about food safety.

While it’s psychologically comforting to blame others, the bottom line is that any food producer, around the corner or around the globe, is responsible for producing safe food.

Dr. David Acheson, who leads the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety efforts, stated he knew of no evidence that outsourcing production is inherently less safe than traditional arrangements in which companies make what they sell.

Me, Dr. Douglas Powell, scientific director of the International Food Safety Network at Kansas State University, was quoted as saying,

"The lesson for everyone is: Know your supplier."

And as Madeleine Ferrières, a professor of social history at the University of Avignon, wrote in the introduction to her 2002 book, Sacred Cow, Mad Cow: A History of Food Fears,

"All human beings before us questioned the contents of their plates. … And we are often too blinded by this amnesia to view our present food situation clearly. This amnesia is very convenient. It allows us to reinvent the past and construct a complaisant, retrospective mythology. Let us strive for lucidity, and let us look to the past for support."