When scrolling through Facebook over the past few weeks, a common theme seemed to be hogging the public’s attention: my romaine lettuce isn’t safe anymore! Salad-bingers and the like were up in arms when news hit of an E. Coli outbreak in romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona. People were starting to ask the question: “Where is my food coming from?” And it’s a question most of us wonder when news like this becomes sharable content. However, on a regular basis, most of us just pack our carts with what we want and don’t question the source of the food we eat.
The journey of our food from farm to table is not an overly complicated one, but there are many chances for complications along the way. There are four main steps of the farm to table process: production, manufacturing, distribution and delivery, and preparation and consumption. It’s at the manufacturing stage that traceability becomes the most important in case any recalls become evident. Being able to know exactly where our food comes from and staying vigilant about recalls is the best way to keep safe. When there is no source for a recall, companies lose money and the trust of their consumers. Having a clear and traceable system to pinpoint contaminations can mean the difference between one person getting sick and hundreds. It is up to both manufacturers and customers to be aware of the importance of food safety.
Manufacturers need to do their part to make sure food is traceable and has limited ability to be contaminated by engaging in programs like Plant Certifications and following strict regulations. Consumers need to ask the question: Where does my food come from? And not be satisfied with a lack of an answer. Checking expiration dates, knowing the source of fish, poultry, and other meats, being aware of recalls, and shopping locally can help limit our exposure to potentially grave circumstances. If a problem does arise with a particular food, it is also important to report it as soon as something is wrong so that the appropriate moves can be made in order to protect the health of the public.
Being conscious about food safety is necessary for the overall health and well-being of the consumer. It’s a two way street where manufacturers need to be held accountable for the food they produce and the consumer needs to be proactive when it comes to knowing where their food comes from. If both parties do their party, we can significantly change the health of our food and ourselves.
Intwala, Sunny. “What to Know about E. Coli after the Romaine Lettuce-Related Outbreak.”ABC News, ABC News Network, 3 May 2018, abcnews.go.com/Health/coli-romaine-lettuce-related-outbreak/story?id=54907450.
“Plant Certification.” National Precast Concrete Association, precast.org/certification.
“Vital Signs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Oct. 2013, www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/foodsafety/infographic.html.