Monday, February 9, 2009

Hold manufacturers responsible for their supply chain

The New York Times article on the spread of salmonella-tainted peanut butter Peanut Case Shows Holes in Safety Net lists dozens of health violations that could have been obvious to anyone walking into the plant. So this begs the question “Why were the companies that bought these peanut products not visiting the plant?” Had any of the companies buying from Peanut Corporation of America, including ConAgra, sent a trained inspector or even someone from the word processing department to look at the plant, Peanut Corporation of America could have been out of business in days. All its customers needed to do was to stop buying their products until the place was cleaned up. That provides the best reason to improve standards and product quality. That is money talking at its best.

We need to demand that the companies we buy food and other products from assume some responsibility and inspect before buying, instead of demanding another agency, a Department of Food. At this point I am not for against such an idea, although I think the USDA could do the job if they had the budget for inspectors.

Inspection of parts and other ingredients is part of verifying the quality of their supply chain. Companies have become lax in this basic part of doing business. The only thing that will make them start this practice is an upwelling of customer demand for it.

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