Laura Landro pretty much parroted the official FDA line on food recalls in her Wall Street Journal article ("Why Some Foods Are Riskier Today", Feb 15). The only thing I could find in the piece that is relevant to the headline is that U.S. consumer demand for "year-round fresh produce and fish" leads to rising imports from "countries that don't have the same level of sanitary practices as required in the U.S." Only if the food is produced by Americans in America.
Except... she started off the article by citing several recent food recalls:
- sausage and salami from Rhode Island
- chewy chocolate chip granola bars from California
- cheese in Washington state
and closed with chocolate chip cookie dough from Virginia.
Her larger point - that food recalls have become more and more frequent - is addressed in Chapter 2 of Numbers Rule Your World. I predict that this trend will snowball, even if we ban all imported foods. As citizens, we need to understand the statistics behind food recalls because they bring some surprises:
- Many food recalls are not likely to have saved any lives
- All food recalls cause economic losses, sometimes substantial
- Rarely is the FDA certain that the recalled foods really caused the alleged illnesses
- If anyone could identify the cause of foodborne disease outbreaks, I would trust the FDA/CDC staff with it (but see above)