Most farmers are putting much more focus on their own sanitation and food safety practices after the recent problem with eggs. Gary Crawford has more:
We were horrified to learn that our eggs may have made people sick, we apologize to everyone that may have been sickened by eating our eggs. I accept the responsibility for those mistakes in our operations.” That’s Jack DeCoster, Senior Co-owner of the Iowa egg production farms that were linked to the recent salmonella outbreak that caused at least 1,600 illnesses across the country and sparked the recall of at least a half-billion eggs. He was testifying there before a congressional panel on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, down the street from the capitol here at the agriculture building, at the exact same time he was talking experts on animal agriculture were holding a meeting, a symposium about issues in animal agriculture. Of course, the food safety aspect is a major concern for consumers for those in an close to the animal livestock industry are doubly concerned about that, especially since most farmers are very, very conscientious about cleanliness and food safety. But, one issue that seemed to crop up are the very few producers that do cause trouble for the rest. At the congressional hearing, egg farmer Jack DeCoster admitted….”we got into trouble with government requirements several times. I’m sorry for those failings.”
And at the livestock meeting at USDA a long-time ag consultant and professor at Southern Illinois University, David Brubaker, told us…”having represented that group, I can tell you that there are bad actors, and the rest of the industry is always reluctant to come down on the bad actors, even though everybody knows who they are. It is habitual, and it doesn’t stop. So, the industry has to get smarter about policing itself.”
Penn State University Extension Expert Greg Martin told us…”the industry can take and play a part in handling what we call ‘bad actors’. That one bad apple spoils the barrel. We need to be self-policing in that effort and encourage all producers to do the best they can.”
But, Martin says there’s no substitute for good, reasonable government oversight, and he says with new FDA regulations coming on soon… "this particular farm will be scrutinized even more closely from now on.”
Because the government can’t just check everything all the time, everywhere, David Brubaker and Greg Martin say… "I’m gong to have to assume that the producer was using reasonable judgment and reasonable standards, and that the farmers are taking that task very seriously, as far as how they’re producing meat, milk and eggs.”
They’re going to have to for two reasons; one the health of the public, and two, the financial security of that farm family raising our food. That stake could put both in jeopardy.