Necessary Cynicism

October 1, 2007

2 Min Read
Necessary Cynicism

Whether you turn to newspapers, magazines, television, cable or online services to get news and current event updates, it seems you can’t turn a page or go for five minutes without reading or hearing something about the ever-growing problems with imports into our country. Whether it’s tainted food ingredients, toys with excessive amounts of lead in their colorful painted surfaces, or new terrorist threat levels concerning the porous nature of our seaports, we just can’t seem to get away from it. And we shouldn’t.

Although China is the current focus for two of the above cited items, if we are honest with ourselves, this problem is really faced by all countries and all people. We are dealing with the reality of a world where historic barriers are falling away quickly, exposing all of us to new hazards and threats every day.

The food industry, despite recent recalls, can be justly proud of its record regarding the safety, quality and healthful nature of what we serve our customers. We had better be—after all, we are among the few industries that asks our customers to voluntarily ingest our products into their delicate internal ecosystems. That’s asking for a level of trust that demands the food industry adopt a credo similar to the medical profession, i.e., “First, do no harm.”

So, what can the food industry do to answer the increasing threats represented by those who, for political or monetary gains, choose to ignore our laws to make a profit or do us harm? We do not have the wherewithal to conduct the millions of individual tests and analyses required, but we can ratchet up our efforts and apply good common sense. Perhaps the best place to start would be to take note of the current hot trends that are, or will soon be, generating big bucks and profits. Then simply ask ourselves the following: “If I were looking for a way to take advantage of that trend without substantially increasing the cost to produce my ingredients, what additive might escape detection?”

While it is impossible to totally eliminate import problems, the key to controlling it to the greatest extent possible is to focus our thinking on one question: “What would our enemies do?”

Cynical? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely!

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