How did food safety become today’s issue 16 years after Jack in the Box? ‘Letting the days go by:’ Bite Me ’09

At least I didn’t show up naked.

That was the general consensus from my talk in Ponte Vedra, Florida, with food industry types on Monday.

The assigned title was, Are We There Yet? – Where Are We? How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go from Here? and was supposed to be a compressed history of food safety since the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box outbreak and how, 16 years later, the U.S. is in a food safety mess.

My talk was somewhat random – I blame it on  baby brain – and found myself going back to the food safety debates of the mid-1990s. It’s like those never happened, and every new outbreak is an unexpected crisis.

I’m old.

Old enough to remember this 1980 Talking Heads song, which seemed particularly apt, given the title of my talk and predicaments of today. From the song, Once in a Lifetime:

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground

And you may ask yourself
Am I right? …am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
My god!…what have I done?

If you ask nice, maybe I’ll make you a mixed tape.

Amy, Sorenne and I then hustled out of 80 F weather in Florida in shorts and sandals for what turned into an 11 hour drive to Franklin, Tennessee, complete with a snowstorm. I’m the 8:15 a.m. entertainment at a regional Association of Food and Drug Officials meeting and get to share my dislike of third-party food safety audits.

And I’ll be dressed.