To gain trust, put facts up front (but only comfortably facts)

If environmental groups can funnel millions into campaigns against genetically engineered foods, and develop databases on more than 80,000 items sold in groceries across the U.S. with details of ingredients and nutritional information, why is there no effort to provide microbial food safety information to consumers at retail – the bugs that sicken 48 million Americans each year?

imagesAccording to the N.Y. Times, analysis of food products aimed at educating (informing, please – dp) consumers about what they’re buying is increasingly common. Whole Foods, for instance, recently began rating some of the produce it sells as good, better or best based on a variety of criteria, and the Cornucopia Institute will soon introduce a yogurt scorecard, ranking a wide variety of yogurts based on whether, say, they use high-fructose corn syrup or carrageenans, among other things.

The yogurt analysis, which took more than a year, follows work the organization has done to rate organic eggs and organic milk, among other products and ingredients. “Yogurt is perceived and marketed as a healthy product, and its popularity has really taken off because of that perception,” said Mark Kastel, co-founder of Cornucopia. “But there are a lot of synthetic chemicals in many yogurts, and as much added sugar as some candy bars.”

I’d be more concerned about the mold (Chobani?)

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) responded by saying the methodology was void of the scientific rigor and objectivity that should be devoted to any effort to provide consumers with reliable nutrition and food safety information. 

But GMA isn’t about to start ranking foods by microbial safety – the stuff that makes people sick.

Retail Leader reports the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association recently launched a retail in-store program related to Facts Up Front, a voluntary initiative to display Nutrition Facts Panel information on the front of food packages. Facts Up Front labels display how many calories and how much saturated fat, sodium and sugar is in each serving. Some labels may also provide information about nutrients, such as fiber and calcium.

Nothing about the bugs that make people sick.

So while it’s nice that, as reported by The Packer, that the Safe Quality Food Institute has given Taylor Farms its Primary Producer of the Year award, no one who shops at retail would know about it.

Jason Kawata, director of quality assurance, using PR-approved flunky words, said, “There is no higher priority for Taylor Farms than food safety. We are committed to the highest levels of food safety day in and day out, and it’s an honor to be recognized for those efforts.”

In addition to adhering to Safe Quality Food Institute certification standards, Taylor Farms implements its SmartWash Solutions food safety and process control system in all facilities. Products are subject to a multi-stage wash with SmartWash, a safeguard against bacterial cross contamination.

Sounds great.

But how would anyone shopping for themselves or their families know?

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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