I’m writing this article on an airplane, while flying along the East Coast. 

Looking out the window, I watch as countless cities, villages and townships slip beneath the wing. Each community, no matter how large or small, is filled with people and their families, all trying each day to do the best they can and to better their lives — even if just a little. Watching the world slowly slip along from my perch at 30,000 feet, I am also reminded about the critical responsibility that the government and the food industry owe to consumers.

I mention this because a number of years ago, dozens of people up and down this same coast were sickened in a large-scale E. coli O157:H7 outbreak involving ground beef. Many lives were shattered, and some remain shattered. Two people died.

I am on a plane right now because of that outbreak, and the litigation that resulted. Fortunately, there has been a substantial decrease in recent years in the number of outbreaks and recalls resulting from ground beef. This is good news for industry and even better news for consumers.

So, each day that goes by, please be sure to remind yourself and your employees about the critical importance of food safety. You are, after all, responsible for the health of nation. Each of those families going about their lives (from coast to coast) need us to keep them fed and to keep them safe.

Indeed, when I touch down at home later tonight, my first stop will be the grocery store. I plan to do some shopping for my own family. And, when I do, I remain inspired by, and thankful for, those people who took a moment to read this article. That tells me that your hearts are in the right place. It also gives me the confidence to proudly represent and counsel the hard working people, like you, who feed our families.

Looking out the window on last time, I also find myself thinking about all the meals that are being served at this very moment — safely. And, of course, all of the families whose lives were made just a little better today because of it. Smiles around the dinner table.

Food safety always matters. So, thank you for all you do.

And, please, keep up the good work.