Stop blaming consumers: be the bug, food safety is farm-to-fork

It’s the first day of spring in Australia, which means daughter Courtlynn is heading back to the Northern Hemisphere to start school, the temperature is soaring, and an entire month awaits of unverified, repetitious and banal food safety messages aimed at consumers.

The Brits got an early start about a week ago.

The Food Standards Agency published a review of existing studies that explore how people manage food safety in their homes.

The report found that, although they are often aware of good food hygiene practices, many people are failing to chill foods properly, aren’t following advice on food labels and aren’t sticking to simple hygiene practices that would help them avoid spreading harmful bacteria around their kitchens. People often know what they should be doing, but they don’t put this knowledge into practice, believing they are not vulnerable to food poisoning.

Yes, individuals are impervious to risk; been known for decades.

There’s oodles of material to pick through in the full report, but my favorite is this: people have a low level of awareness of recommended good practice with respect to cooking (correct final cooked temperature).

Maybe FSA should stop telling people to cook things until they are ‘piping hot.’

Food safety isn’t just a consumer thing – it’s an everybody thing. Forget the farm groups and industries that fund the blame-consumers approach. What did consumers have to do with outbreaks involving peanut butter, pizza, pot pies, pet food, pepper and produce (washing don’t do much). That’s just the Ps.

Reciting prescriptive instructions – cook, clean, chill, separate – like some fascist country line dancing instructor benefits no one. Food safety is complex, and it takes effort.