Wanted: Food Safety Reform in California and Beyond

First it was spinach, then it was tomatoes, then peppers, then peanuts, and now it’s pistachios that have been contaminated with salmonella. The Food and Drug administration is investigating Setton International Foods Inc. of Commack, N.Y., along with its sister company, Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. in the San Joaquin Valley plant as sources of the scare. According to the Los Angeles Times, nearly two dozen dead cockroaches, rodent droppings and one live cockroach on an ingredient rolling rack were found inside the Commack plant during a state department health inspection. The San Joaquin Valley plant then recalled 2million pounds of nuts over fears of possible salmonella contamination.

Sadly, food producers are not legally bound to meet the FDA’s recommendations for a well run plant. Most consumers don’t know that not mandatory for plants to release testing and reporting results . Consequently, consumers in California have every right to feel a little scared when it comes to food safety. The solution to this growing problem is for both public and consumer advocates to place pressure on food processors and food manufacturers and for government to beef up their food safety guidelines. Another solution would be for the FDA to emphasize to all food processors and manufacturers the fact that efforts, efforts that initially seem costly, such as purchasing or investing in equipment that helps their plants churn out safe products, can save them millions in the long run or prevent bankruptcy.

Requiring everyone along the production process to perform rigorous testing will also help make sure ingredients are safe, which ensures consumers are safe. And since during the production process food products can start in one state and end up in several different companies in different states for repackaging or for use as ingredients, and finding the source of an outbreak can be nearly impossible, it is important that all states set in place stringent food quality safety standards. A bit of good news regarding reform comes from California, where a bill by two Los Angeles Democrats, Assemblyman Mike Feuer and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, would require food processors in the state to have plans in place to require periodic testing and to prevent contamination and to respond quickly if it occurred. It may seem glib to say, but, here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe now is the time for food safety reform not just in California but in the entire country– as it looks like we are all inextricably linked when it comes to our safety and the foods we eat.

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