“Uncle Dave, are we there yet?”
In Part 1 of this multi-part series (maybe we’re finally at the end), I laid out some of what I felt is wrong with food safety issues in this country. In Part 2, I looked at a few of the differences between the U.S. and just a couple other countries with respect to food safety. In Part 3, I described some common myths that are still perpetrated by food safety “experts” in this country, along with some other serious annoyances in the arena of “political food correctness”. From Part 1 from this morning:
Here’s the reality: Regulators are focusing on all the wrong areas of food safety. When it comes to the editorial in yesterday’s Blade, I’m in full agreement. But frankly, the whole so-called “food safety” system in this country needs a flippin’ overhaul.
In Part 1, referring to the Blade editorial, I wrote, “As in any good editorial, the writer gave their own suggestions”. So, without further ado, here are my own thoughts on things that should be done from the federal level:
- Outlaw political correctness from any and all previous, current and future food regulations.
- Direct the National Restaurant Association to further their efforts in policing themselves via ServSafe, providing partial funding.
- Continue retail and non-profit foodservice inspections via county health departments, while allowing for the use of “common sense” during facility operation. Make 100% of restaurant and facility inspection reports available online at county levels across the U.S.
- Simplify permits for events lasting less than 96 hours overall, with more simplification for single-day events.
- Require each K-12 school kitchen or cafeteria (public or private) be inspected twice annually, and that the director of each cafeteria system be ServSafe certified.
- Combine the FDA and USDA food-related inspection and regulatory agencies into a new, single entity.
- Ramp-up inspections of both domestic and imported foods in an effort to reach 80% of all products within 5 years.
1. Outlaw political correctness from any and all previous, current and future food regulations.
Yes, some people need to lose weight. Why does the government, or anyone else, feel they have the right or the authority to regulate this, to throw calorie counts in people’s faces, to make the entire restaurant industry change ingredients, change how they operate, just to satisfy political correctness? With the exception of true “companion animals” and real animal cruelty (which excludes the whole foie gras fiasco), what’s on anyone’s dinner plate is no one else’s business.
2. Direct the National Restaurant Association to further their efforts in policing themselves via ServSafe, providing partial funding.
Restaurants owners, Chefs, cooks and the countless others who work in food service, understand their business better than anyone else. To regulate these people without listening to them, as with trans fats, restaurant nutrition info labeling, etc., is more than Orwellian. It’s downright nauseating. Cooking is more art than science, and to involve science to regulate every last aspect of the food industry will only ruin it. These people know their jobs. Help them do it better, trust them with it, get ServSafe built to involve everyone in the industry, and the resulting food will be so much better.
3. Continue retail and non-profit foodservice inspections via county health departments, while allowing for the use of “common sense” during facility operation. Make 100% of restaurant and facility inspection reports available online at county levels across the U.S.
Food inspections are sometimes full of nonsense. Inspection reports such as this one are reported as, “Inspectors observed ‘Several food items at unsafe temperatures’, turkey was being improperly thawed, and other food items weren’t being reheated correctly.” Were they really? Or is this some of the non-common-sense items from that county’s health department? It’s difficult to tell, really, what some of these statements actually mean. But the fact is, some of these processes may have actually been fine. This is where the whole “common sense” aspect comes into play. Counties should post these kinds of reports verbatim. The City of Chicago at least allows you to see the real language of a restaurant’s violations online, so this is certainly possible for most localities to accomplish.
4. Simplify permits for events lasting less than 96 hours overall, with more simplification for single-day events.
Is a full inspection really necessary if a Scout group wants to sell hot dogs and hamburgers at a local fair? Puh-lease … get a responsible adult to understand they’re solely liable if anyone gets sick, and everything will be fine. These people likely cook at home anyway and know what they’re doing. Stop insulting their intelligence by implying they haven’t a clue.
5. Require each K-12 school kitchen or cafeteria (public or private) be inspected twice annually, and that the director of each cafeteria system be ServSafe certified.
This isn’t difficult. Really, it’s not. I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to find ServSafe-certified chefs or cooks who could take on this inspection task locally to ensure their own and neighboring kids are eating in a safe facility. Again, these pros know what’s needed. Give them a minor stipend, hold their butts responsible, and you’ll have 100% inspections in no time. As to directors being certified, that should be a given.
6. Combine the FDA and USDA food-related inspection and regulatory agencies into a new, single entity.
I could never figure out how and why this split happened. How much duplication of effort is there? Probably substantial. This whole agency thing should be modernized anyway, with less bureaucracy, and more real effort toward solving real problems.
7. Ramp-up inspections of both domestic and imported foods in an effort to reach 80% of all products requiring inspections within 5 years.
Streamlining the agencies into one single entity, no longer playing the “political correctness” game, letting restaurants police themselves as they should … yup, should end up with plenty of qualified inspectors needing jobs.
This is “quick and dirty”. I’ll probably expand on this later. But I should really finish up, especially since …
While I was finishing this up just now, this comment came in from Ria over at the Our World and Everything In It blog here on BlogsMonroe.com. Here’s part of Ria’s comment:
What I’ve seen, read, heard, and witnessed myself, we’re eating crap anyway, so overcooking or undercooking crap is of no consequence. It’s not so much the food prep, the animals are cute, how long is it cooked, it’s how it’s raised period.
Exactly, Ria! From Part 3 of what I’ve written today:
In the mid 20th century, most pork had to be cooked well done because of the fear of trichinosis. But today pork is fed and raised differently and the meat is safe to heat when cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. If the juices run very light pink, the pork is done.
This is not so difficult. Let the restaurant industry police itself. Use government resources, and the resources from individual food production industries, to properly take care of food where it’s raised and processed. The pork industry has proved how this can be accomplished.
Ria gets it. Do you?