Breaking News on Food and Beverage Processing and PackagingWorldUSEurope


Laugh if you want, but the food supply is safer than ever

Post a comment

By Jenni Spinner+

Last updated on 26-Jun-2014 at 17:45 GMT

FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and the entire US food safety industry, have been hit by satirical website The Onion.
FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and the entire US food safety industry, have been hit by satirical website The Onion.

The satirical specialists at The Onion might make food recall jokes at the expense of the FDA, but the safety of the US food supply is seriously better than ever.

There’s hardly a corner of the US government that hasn’t been hit by the Onion’s satirical barbs. This week, the latest target is the US Food and Drug Administration, hit with the website’s lampoon harpoon in a sendup of the amount of food recalls in the news.

Fun with food safety

“FDA Recalls Food,” the headline reads. The brief but biting article goes on to advise citizens literally not to eat anything (no grains, meats, produce, nuts, dairy products, processed foodstuffs, sweets, spices, or other edibles) due to safety concerns.

We are asking all Americans to return any edible products they own to the store where these items were purchased or to discard such items immediately,” the spoof piece quotes FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg as saying. “If you are eating something right now, please discontinue doing so.”

No laughing matter

People working  in the food industry—especially those with ‘safety’ in their job titles—probably will have a good laugh at the headline. While foodborne illness is never funny (though some found the irony of the recent outbreak at the Food Safety Summit worth a smirk), progress in improving the safety of the US food supply is worth cheering.

Since 1996, reported incidents of Listeria-caused illnesses are down an impressive 42%. In that same time period, cases of E. coli and Campylobacter are down 30% and 22%, respectively.

Even one illness or fatality tied to foodborne pathogens is unacceptable. The good news is, the industry and government are working to bring that number down to zero.

Safety progress

As Rutgers University food scientist Donald Schaffner pointed out during the recent IFT 2014 event, the federal government (a frequent target of ridicule and criticism) actually has proven itself to be on top of things in several ways.

Over the last 25 years, a lot of the research and innovation in food safety has been driven by the changes in regulation,” he said.

Schaffner also applauded the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for creating tools like PulseNet and FoodNet, to increase and share knowledge of outbreak events, and prevent the next event from happening—and that’s something to smile about.

If you're in the mood for a giggle, you can read the full Onion article here .

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products