Food industry not acting on problems ‘very common’ – prof

With economic pressures, more food safety stuff gets farmed out to others.

Whether enough food safety expertise remains in the company selling the product is questionable.

Canwest News Service reported the DeGroot children, Johnny, now 9, and sister Jessica, 6, of Waterford, Ontario, are still battling parasites the family believes are linked to juice they consumed.

More than 100,000 Strawberry Kiwi Dole juice boxes were eventually destroyed last year following a government investigation showing a container-integrity problem with the boxes during distribution. Weakened boxes can become bloated and leaky, making them magnets for bacteria and yeast.

Newly released internal documents from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about the affair reveal a food-safety system far from perfect, where flags during distribution might not have come to light had it not been for one determined family.

And a leading food-science expert who reviewed the agency’s final report into the matter says the case demonstrates an ongoing problem in the food industry.

University of Guelph food science professor Keith Warriner said,

"It was obvious to me that what they actually have, on paper, a system in place to detect the quality control of packaging, but they didn’t actually practise what they preached. . . . It was more a case of the company, when a defect did occur, not acting upon it. That’s very common in the food industry. … A lot of companies are subcontracting. Economically, it makes sense because if you subcontract, you don’t have to pay for facilities. But if you haven’t got control, it can literally collapse an organization so you’ve got to be careful.”