Saturday, February 14, 2009

Peanut farmers must step up to a higher standard of self inspection so that the public will regain trust in its product

If you're a peanut farmer, you should be angry with what's happening to the public perception about your product and its tie back to the Peanut Corp of America.  As a longtime goober lover, I am seriously thinking about alternatives to this basic male food group.

What bothers me the most is the laxity of our government inspection system.  In a story published today in the Express News,  the article noted that there are 340 state health inspectors for 17,000 food processing units.   That 500 to one ration kind of concerns me, and it should concern others as well.

However, the peanut growers of America should take action now.  They should look at a better form of internal auditing for food safety.    Like the property and casualty or the hospital industry, they should look at forming a group of  inspectors who will come in to peanut processing plants and warehouses to inspect their processes.  As well, a standard form of self-evaluation must be developed for the industry.

Those firms that adhere to the stronger standard should have it clearly identified on its packaging with something akin to the "Good Housekeeping" seal for their products.  By stating that they are operating at a higher standard of food safety, they can slowly restore America's faith in everything from their peanut butter and jelly sandwich to those great packages of nuts sold at baseball games.

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