(Editor’s Note: This is an online-only article attributed to the February/March 2018 issue.)
Recent severe outbreaks of illness from tainted packaged food have been traced to everything from Listeria in frozen vegetables, packaged salads, and ice cream, to E. coli in cookie dough, botulism in pasteurized carrot juice, and Salmonella in peanut butter. And the human toll of these outbreaks is devastating.
The CDC estimates that tainted food sickens 48 million consumers a year, sends 128,000 to the hospital, and causes the death of 3,000.
The financial effect on individuals and the nation’s economy is equally substantial. As noted in Fortune magazine in May 2016, the annual cost of medical treatment, lost productivity, and illness-related mortality due to contaminated food is $55.5 billion annually. That’s according to a 2015 study by Robert Scharff, an associate professor at The Ohio State University.
The impact on the health of businesses is also extreme. In 2011, the Grocery Manufacturers Association surveyed three dozen companies to measure the impact of food recalls caused by unsafe food practices. More than half reported being impacted by a recall in the previous five years. Cost of these recalls ranged from $30 million to $100 million. Along with the direct costs came reputational damage, which can’t be precisely quantified but inevitably raised the price tag of recalls substantially.
Signed into law in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was created to reduce these human, financial, and reputational costs. Reliable exam and certification programs are now required to assess the knowledge of the industry’s workforce to help do so.| | | Next → | Single Page