Continued focus on food safety issues hasn’t seemed to stop food recalls, which is a dispiriting result for all involved.
The industry’s good faith decision to seek federal oversight was calculated to allow them to participate in the process, whether through the leafy greens marketing agreement or development/refinement of good agricultural practices and input on legislation.
In that respect, the leadership of the trade associations was enlightened, as results of those cooperative efforts continue to bear fruit.
The coordinated response will be among the top legacies of each of the leaders of the industry’s trade associations, and particularly so for Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of United Fresh.
Perhaps a companion project should have been to create a generic marketing campaign, funded with mandatory assessments, to tell the consuming public the industry’s commitment to food safety and healthy living for all Americans.
It is too early to say how the industry’s desire for more oversight to restore consumer confidence will be judged in 15 years.
The growth in government regulations and buyer-driven food safety demand is daunting for grower-shippers. I have a feeling there will never be a day when the rank and file of the industry would say, “By jove, we need more government regulation.”
But in 2006, their leaders soberly weighed the needs of the industry and made that call for them. And it reverberates still today.
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