It has been over a year since the late 2008 major product recall incident involving peanut butter and peanut products being produced by the now defunct Peanut Corporation of America.  That incident had multiple cascading effects among quite a number of food-related supply chains.

An article appearing in the Atlanta Journal Constitution indicates that little has changed since this incident.  The article notes that prior to the incident, the state of Georgia had not mandated that food producers test their products.  The State has since passed legislation that calls for regular food testing, and requires Georgia food producers to test their products on a regular basis.  However, Georgia legislators, just before passage, amended the bill in two significant areas.  First, companies could bypass self-testing by submitting a “food safety” plan to the state.  What that plan involves appears to be rather unclear, according to the AJC article. The bill also exempts plants whose end product remains a raw agricultural product.  This includes peanuts, and growers in Georgia represent about 46 percent of the U.S. supply.

On the U.S. federal level, the Food Safety Modernization ACT of 2009 remains stalled in the Senate, after the House of Representatives passed its version of the bill.  This bill had widespread industry endorsement, and a coalition of 18 industry and other groups has written a letter this month to Senate leaders imploring passage of the bill.

To date, no criminal charges have been filed regarding events from the previous incident, and the article notes that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has decided to defer to federal authorities for prosecution.

The media makes note that the current mood among consumers and voters across the U.S. is one of building cynicism in the ability of government to solve problems on a timely basis, and on industry to be able to produce safe products.  I suspect these same concerns are evident in other countries as well.  With noted brand names such As Toyota and others constantly in the news, it is no wonder. 

We should all expect and demand that our food supply has adequate safeguards.  This type of news doesn’t help in building confidence. Industry needs to take a leadership position in insuring product and food supply chain integrity, since reports such as these only add more fire to consumer concerns.

Bob Ferrari