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Food Safety Is Not Optional

As a parent, one of my rules is “Safety First!” This is a simple precaution to take with my kids, and it makes them aware of their surroundings in any and all activities.

But in the food world it can mean the difference between life and death.

Many retailers are stringent when it comes to the safety of where their private label food. The vast majority require their own third-party, superior-rated audits. This is a multi-faceted step — initiated by the retailer — that can include a social responsibility component, technical product specifications to ensure quality consistency and a factory visit by their professional in-house quality assurance team.

So it shocks me that there continues to be certain well-known, national retailers who assume that their brand is protected by the manufacturers that produce for them. They wrongly assume that these manufacturers are taking on the “Safety First” responsibility of the business, so that no harm could possibly befall the retailer for which they produce a myriad of products.

That may be true. Quality and safety start with the manufacturer. But they must be reinforced by each retailer that buys their goods.

Why is it that durable goods manufacturers even have slogans touting quality claims (think Ford Motor Co’s “Quality is Job 1” slogan), yet when it comes to the food we eat this is not necessarily the case? I’ve been to hundreds, if not thousands, of food manufacturing plants around the world and it seems to me that the United States is one of the few countries that remain comparatively lax when it comes to food manufacturing.

Retailers and manufacturers need to work hand in hand to ensure that all items produced are given the safety seal of approval akin to Ford’s slogan. There are enough obstacles in this business and we don’t want the food we eat to become one more of them, especially when it is relatively easy to maintain quality and still protect our health through basic food safety measures.

Retailers, you know who you are, Please take the extra precautionary steps to ensure food safety by requiring annual third-party audits and technical product specs at the very least. Your health — and ours — depend on it.