(Unsubstantiated) food safety statements

It’s 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning, the thunder and trains both sound like they’re in my living room, and I’m talking about Salmonella and tomatoes on Chicago’s WGN News Talk Radio 720.

I’ll review the mp3 file when the producer sends it along and see if I said anything silly. I try to keep the unsubstantiated food safety statements to a minimum. But, while providing company for truck drivers, insomniacs and conspiracy theorists, who knows what will slip out (doing Coast-to-Coat AM radio from 1 – 2 a.m on June 10 was actually a lot of fun).

Ken Givens, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, wrote in a particularly lucid article in The Tennessean yesterday,

"Our agency alone licenses and inspects more than 9,200 retail food establishments, 900 food manufacturers and 475 food warehouses for sanitation and proper food storage and handling. … Food safety starts at the farm. In association with the UT Institute of Agriculture, we’re launching a new initiative aimed at helping fruit and vegetable growers and distributors institute good agricultural practices, such as using safe sources of irrigation in the field and proper washing and handling after harvesting. "

But then, Commissioner Givens joins our safest-food-in-the-world list, by stating,

"America still has the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply in the world."

Not to be outdone, Carol B. Dover, President/CEO, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Tallahasse, writes in yesterday’s Orlando Sentinel that,

"… according to Florida Department of Health statistics, less than half of reported foodborne illness cases are attributable to restaurants. While it is easy to blame the last restaurant visited, the source is very likely improperly prepared home-cooked food."

It is very likely that Carol Dover can’t back that statement up. It’s easy to blame consumers, but there are too many outbreaks that are simply beyond a consumer’s control. Sorta like Salmonella and tomatoes.

And for no particular reason, this is a picture Bill Marler sent me of a butcher’s shop in Wales. Reminds me of last year in France and the rampant cross-contamination Amy and I witnessed at our local butcher in the beach town of Maubuisson.