Blame the consumer: while congratulating itself beef industry takes shot at consumers

Is you is, or is you ain’t, my constituency?

The U.S. beef industry said last week beef is safer than it was 10 years ago, and cited survey data to show consumers agreed.

Surveys still suck.

“When asked whether someone is more likely to get sick from foodborne bacteria eating at home or at a restaurant, 65 percent of consumers answered “at a restaurant.” However, 72 percent of the experts attending the summit answered “at home.”

“In fact, statistics back up the experts’ opinion showing between 60 percent and 70 percent of foodborne illnesses occur at home.”

Got a reference for that? Or were the press release authors too busy inserting “dick fingers” and statements of nonsense like, “In fact.”

“In fact, it isn’t beef safety consumers are concerned about. When asked which fresh food they might buy in the supermarket was their biggest safety concern, 48 percent of consumers answered “Fish and Seafood.” Only 10 percent said beef was their biggest safety concern.”

Beef safety may have improved, but industry types can’t help but continue to cast stones. Beef types have lots to concern themselves with – non-O157 shiga-toxin producing E. coli, pink slime, cross-contamination, welfare and workplace issues — instead of wasting rhetorical energy about who’s to blame for foodborne illness.

It’s called playing to your constituency

Jacob, C.J. and Powell, D.A. 2009. Where does foodborne illness happen—in the home, at foodservice, or elsewhere—and does it matter? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, 6(9): 1121-1123.?
Foodservice professionals, politicians, and the media are often cited making claims as to which locations most often expose consumers to foodborne pathogens. Many times, it is implied that most foodborne illnesses originate from food consumed where dishes are prepared to order, such as restaurants or in private homes. The manner in which the question is posed and answered frequently reveals a speculative bias that either favors homemade or foodservice meals as the most common source of foodborne pathogens. Many answers have little or no scientific grounding, while others use data compiled by passive surveillance systems. Current surveillance systems focus on the place where food is consumed rather than the point where food is contaminated. Rather than focusing on the location of consumption—and blaming consumers and others—analysis of the steps leading to foodborne illness should center on the causes of contamination in a complex farm-to-fork food safety system.