Like it or not, we are in the midst of election season.

Most of us cannot turn on a television or read a newspaper without being subject to a blitz of attacks on one candidate or another’s credibility. Certainly, as Americans, we aspire to elect candidates who are honest and truthful individuals that have our best interests at heart.  

We expect these same qualities from the companies that produce the food we feed to our families. Most of the time, they live up to our expectations.

Occasionally, however, we hear or read about a company that failed to honestly account for problems or difficulties which they faced.  As with politicians, the consequences are severe. Likewise, it takes only a few isolated instances to arouse mistrust in the industry as a whole. 

Fortunately, the vast majority of companies are honest and straightforward in all aspects of their business. The fact remains, however, that there are many opportunities and natural motivations for companies to engage in dishonest behavior. Pathogens are difficult to control, and regulators can be harsh and unyielding. Companies that exert tremendous effort often find themselves waging uphill battles and facing difficult circumstances, which are often brought about through no fault of their own. These difficulties can make the decision, for instance, to sweep a positive test result under the table seem attractive.

When politicians try to hide something from their past, they are almost invariably exposed. The same holds true for companies in the food industry, and sometimes with similarly severe repercussions.

The food industry is an industry from which people expect the highest standards. Whether in the court of public opinion, or in that of law, our credibility is the single most important thing we have. We produce products that our customers put into their bodies. It is an extraordinary trust and one which we must not only earn — but also maintain.

We have seen a dramatic increase in the level of regulation over the past few years, and that will likely continue to increase. The demands placed upon companies in all areas, especially record-keeping, will continue to increase as well.

So, perhaps we may be well-served to treat each production season as an election year, and always keep in mind, that honesty is the best policy.