Andy Hanacek

I have some questions: What is the matter with some food processors out there? Are these companies so driven by the bottom line that food safety has gone completely out the window? Do companies think that no one will catch them when they cut corners or outright ignore food-safety and quality issues?

With rising food prices and an economy in serious distress, the last thing consumers needed right now was a shock to the system that would further decrease their confidence. And the last thing any food processor needed right now is a lack of confidence in the quality of the product they produce. Despite the peanut butter industry’s best efforts to remind consumers that peanut butter in sealed jars is safe and unaffected by the recent Salmonella recalls, you can bet that a majority of consumers, faced with the choice of getting sick or throwing away a couple dollars’ worth of peanut butter, are tossing those jars in the trash and preparing to wait out a few months minus the beloved peanut butter sandwich.

The meat and poultry industry feels the pain of those good manufacturers in the peanut industry — unfortunately, many of you out their can relate to the situation. Any recall on a scale such as this affects the bottom line of anyone associated with that product, even if their records are spotless and they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away geographically.

Despite the recent economic problems, brought on by consumers taking too many risks with their money, assets, etc., companies must remember that, when it comes to safe food products, consumers won’t take risks. Any word that the food they’re eating might have a problem, and you can forget about that customer buying that product for a while, if not forever.

The meat industry has some expertise in responding to recalls, and even though this industry is not directly affected by this peanut recall, it should put together a proactive response. Now is not the time to sigh and say, “Thank God it isn’t us!”

This response should be: “We feel the pain of our brethren in the peanut industry and wish them luck in recovering from the perception problems that will follow this recall. However, we’d like to remind the American consumer that the meat industry has taken a leadership role in the realm of food safety, and we’d be willing to extend a helping hand to any food processor who’d like to implement our best practices and strategies.”

What are you waiting for? The next meat recall?