A year or more ago ago, I met Doug Powell, who heads up the Food Safety Network based at Kansas State University. He has a simple, three-word answer to the problem of food safety: Don't Eat Poop.
It's on T-shirts around K-State and Powell has Websites at www.donteatpoop.com
that talk about the reality of food-borne illness and how to combat it. Don't miss the latest updates at barfblog if you go there.
Even though Doug approaches this with humor, he knows that it is a serious issue with serious consequences. The number of people who get sick every year from contaminated food is staggering -- 76 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's about far, far more than the recall outbreaks we hear about, even though they have seemed to muliply in recent months.
The point Doug makes, and others should heed is that food safety is about every person, every day taking responsibility.
We can't pass enough regulations to make food safe if the people handling it don't take safety seriously. Organic is not a guarantee, nor is locally grown. Responsibly grown, handled and packaged is a better bet.
The message to producers: Take this seriously and promote your management of microbial risks. Do better than promotion. Manage them. Responsibly. And maybe if government doesn't run too amok, you can fix this mess.