Don’t keep doing the same inspection, crazy to expect different result

None of them get food safety.

Politicians, inspectors, unions, bureaucrats, organizations and companies.

There are many individuals who do, and contribute tremendously to making fewer people barf each day, but they operate in a climate of institutional pot_bunker_st_andrewsindifference.

It’s not like there’s a lack of evidence.

Canadians are wondering how that indifference by both XL Foods and Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors could be so prominent just five years after the Maple Leaf listeria outbreak killed 23.

It’s easy: no knowledge, no hard questions, protecting turf, and a minister of agriculture who is still inexplicably minister.

Today’s New York Times editorializes there are some 8,600 federal meat inspectors in the U.S. working in 6,300 packing and processing plants and cites a report from USDA’s inspector general which concludes at least the pig inspectors may sorta suck at it.

But it’s like reading the XL report out of Canada, or the two Prof. Pennington reports from the UK on outbreaks in Scotland (1996) and Wales (2005): serial violators of health standards were allowed to keep operating.

The Times says, “Even in the presence of government investigators, some inspectors failed to condemn contaminated meat. Nor were the inspectors vigilant enough when it came to flagging violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which specifies a minimum standard for the treatment of animals being led to slaughter.

“The good news is that the Agriculture Department is inspecting its inspection system. The bad news is that the inspector general’s office Bobby-jones-resized.storymerely urges inspectors to conform more fully to existing laws and directives, when what is needed is more and better-trained inspectors.”

Nope, the problem is far more systemic and far more rooted in human behavior than anything more training is going to fix.

The definition of crazy is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Time for something different.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time