Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a delegation from the CFIA. The purpose of the meeting was to allow industry to have input on the CFIA’s “enhanced annex O”. The CFIA and USDA are making wonderful strides in engaging industry towards best practices.
As most know by now, our position is and has always been that if we are going to spend money, it should be based on the latest food science and HACCP principles.
To that end, industry would invest in interventions. “Process steps” properly deployed would eliminate or reduce (to an acceptable level) the microbiological hazard.
Part of that worthwhile investment would include the continuing education of consumers on how to properly prepare “ground foods.” Unfortunately, although the CFIA and USDA understand the importance of consumer education they feel that one cannot depend on the public to be able to learn proper food handling techniques. In fact at one Food Safety Symposium I attended it was actually spoken “that the public was not intelligent enough, and it would be impossible to expect that the public could learn how to properly handle and cook their foods.”
I have to say this was a compelling argument. At first I bought the idea that it would be impossible to teach the public — until recently. I was at a gas station with my 8-year-old daughter. As she watched me begin to fill up my car she asked me what gas stations were like when I was young. I told her things were much different back in the day as gas stations were full serviced.
“Full service — what does that mean?” she asked.
I told her that at every station there was an attendant that would fill up your gas, clean your windows and even check your oil. “Wow” she said. Was that for everybody? Did everybody get full service? “Yes of course” I said. Then she asked, “When did it change and how does everyone know what to do now?”
I said that I’m not sure when it changed and people know what to do now because they learned it. Then she asked, “So on their own, everyone learned how to engage a computer, swipe their card, command for gas, ask for other services , fill their cars, complete the transaction and get their receipts, all on their own without anyone to teach them?” Yes I thought. All of us, the entire public, all simultaneously learned how to service our own cars and automatically pay for it without ever being shown or taught.
With that my 8 year old asked if I would let her do the entire fill-up on her own.
So I guess the next time someone tells me that it would be impossible for the public to learn I will forever think of my trip to the “self serve” gas station with my daughter, and what I learned.
Use the word impossible with the greatest of caution.