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From: Food Quality & Safety magazine, April/May 2010

What's Right Redux

by Patrick McGee

PATRICK McGEE

At the risk of seeming like a food industry Pollyanna, I wanted to publish an article that considers all the good things our industry does to produce safe, quality food, and that is just what we feature in this issue’s cover article.

We have published our share of articles over the last few years discussing and analyzing and trying to learn from all-to-frequent recalls. But we know that for every recall that makes it into the mainstream media and gets the attorneys circling, there are untold stories of thousands upon thousands of production line workers, quality control managers, scientists, and executives in this industry who are trying to make a difference. Companies both large and small are doing a considerable amount of work to make the food we consume safer, and that’s what this issue’s cover article considers.

“The public doesn’t think the food industry is doing enough to protect them,” said Jerry Mithen, vice president of manufacturing services at RQA Inc., a consultancy. “Some of the public interest groups and lawyers that solicit class action lawsuits are fanning the fire of these isolated events, making the public think the American food supply is less than safe, when in fact it’s the safest in the world,” he told Food Quality.

Many companies are trying to raise the bar, but others are lagging, said Mike Doyle, PhD, of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. “Frankly, my experience has been that not all food companies are equally committed to ensuring the safety of their products. It’s incumbent on all companies to raise that bar for food safety to a much higher level, and there are several companies highly motivated to do that.”

The cover article and several others in this issue explore the hard work being done and the scientific advances being made to make our food supply safer.

One of our articles announces that a panel of judges has selected the winner of the 9th Annual Food Quality Award, sponsored by DuPont Qualicon and presented by Food Quality. The name of the winner will be announced when the award is presented on Tuesday, April 13 at the Food Safety Summit. The award recognizes companies for exceptional contributions to food safety and customer satisfaction.

According to one of our judges, the winner has exhibited “consistent strong performance in external audits, with regulatory agency, customer, and third-party audits focusing on food safety, quality management systems, animal welfare, and child nutrition. Shelf life improvements and overall reduction in pathogens are further evidence of a comprehensive and effective approach to continued improvement in food safety and quality.”

The winning company’s president and CEO offered advice to other businesses seeking to achieve quality. “Measure everything and post it. What gets measured gets done. Keep open, honest relationships with your customers and regulatory body. Sometimes you have to be willing to try things that are not the status quo. Quality and food safety is everyone’s job.”

Words to live by as we seek to inform the public of all the hard work we do to ensure safety and quality, day in and day out.

Sincerely,
PATRICK McGEE
Editor
pmcgee@wiley.com

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