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Julio Razza

Professor Watson

English 1001

March 1, 2019

Food Safety: A Potentially Deadly Responsibility

Proper food safety is something many people take for granted. In my experience, I’ve

noticed that most people have trust and confidence in whatever restaurant they go to, assuming

that if there are no rats around or if there’s no mold growing under the tables that the food is safe

to eat. Even at home, are we educated enough in grade school to know when something we cook

is safe to eat? Something you may not have thought about before is how your food is treated

during shipping. Are the workers responsibly handling food and ensuring it maintains safe

temperature or doesn’t get damaged the entire shipping/storing process? How do we even know

if our food safety systems put in place from the FDA and USDA are being ensured for our

wellbeing? What about people in countries with no such systems? We have come a long way in

food safety from the past, however we are not doing as much as we could as hundreds of

thousands of people die every year with millions more getting sick due to improper food safety.

There are collective reasons for food safety still being such an issue. Proper food safety systems

are a top down responsibility, with governments at the top to impose thought out and well-

structured food safety laws for food manufacturing businesses to then lead by example to the rest

of the industry by practicing proactive safe storage, handling and cooking procedures. This

structure allows restaurants, and the at-home-chef to then take food safety into their own hands.

The system of food safety is a massive machine full of risks and it affects us all. To improve

food safety standards, we must work together at the personal level by knowing the risks and
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staying aware, at the business level through leading by example and at the government level to

utilize and improve the food safety systems in place.

Food safety is incredibly important and in some parts of the world, incredibly

problematic; given that you can get sick or die from poor food safety. This threat is particularly

abundant in less developed countries with little or no government regulation around food safety.

Government agencies have a responsibility to protect the public health by ensuring clean and

efficient water, electricity and storage systems. When the government fails to do so, we end up

with the most risk to the public population. Regulating food safety agencies here in the U.S. are

probably well known to most Americans; you have the FDA, USDA, FSIS and more. In other

developed countries you have similar systems and in less developed countries you don’t have

such systems at all, or vastly less effective systems. Joe Whitworth explain this well in his recent

article “GFSP calls for more domestic food safety investments in African countries” on

foodsafetynews.com. Whitworth does an excellent job adding pathos and logos in his article,

preaching emotion to the audience that we must not stand for the vast amount of unnecessary

deaths and illness in Africa every year due to improper food safety systems. His intent is to raise

awareness and assist consumers in demanding an increase in food safety standards across the

continent. He writes “In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that Africans

suffer 137,000 deaths and 91 million acute illnesses annually from foodborne hazards”

(Whitworth). That number of unnecessary deaths and illnesses is enough to get anyone to stand

up for proper food safety, right? Unfortunately, as the article points out, we are not quite there

yet. However, awareness is certainly a step in the right direction. The governments of Africa are

having their own problems of civil unrest, poor economies and devastating weather conditions.

Despite this, millions of dollars of foreign aid are pouring in to help, including the biggest
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donator according to the article; “the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which invested $37

million in aflatoxin projects” (Whitworth). Large donations such as these will certainly help to

some extent, but it will ultimately be up to the governments of Africa to institute thorough food

safety systems for the businesses and people of Africa to follow. I also pull information

regarding government’s role in food safety from my fifth source; an article in online open access

biomedical journal entitled "Biomedical Journal Vol 41, Issue 2". The journal is published by

Elsevier B.V. The article's title is "Food safety in the 21st century" and the writers are Fred Fung,

Huei-Shyong Wang and Suresh Menon. These articles gave me a much deeper insight into this

problem of governmental food safety standards and how we got to this point of food safety.

Believe it or not our global food safety standards used to be much worse! Government’s role in

food safety and correctly informing people of what is in the product stated strongly throughout

the article. “In general, consumers rely on government to ensure all food products not only are

safe but are sold as what they claim to contain” (Fung). This knowledge has led me to dive

deeper into the topic of businesses taking these systems into their own responsibility, leading by

example to others in the industry of food manufacturing.

There are a lot of businesses that deal with food, and I mean a lot. For this section I’m

primarily writing about food manufactures, and the companies responsible for proper storage and

shipping of those foods. It is the responsibility of all those businesses to get your food to either

the restaurant it’s going to be cooked in, or to your refrigerator while keeping the food safe to

eat. The lives of many people are in the hands of these businesses. Businesses should be leading

by example by ensuring proper food safety procedures are in place and are being held to high

standards. Amanda Kehres describes the fantastic standard that Graeter’s Ice Cream has set and

led by for almost 150 years in her article “Frozen Food Safety That Extends From Necessity to
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Passion” on the website foodsafetymagazine.com. In the article she uses strong logos with a

detailed explanation to the audience of Graeter’s successful system of food safety management

during the manufacturing, storage and shipping process of making their delicious frozen desserts.

She appeals to the emotion side of people by motivating the audience, stating “Food safety is

much more than a science—it is a passion” (Kehres). This article hit my expectations right on the

dot, and I believe Graeter’s is a prime example of a responsible business leading by example to

the entire food manufacturing industry, and not just the frozen foods companies. Kehres

understands that businesses have the obligation to know who they are buying from, and to

purchase from certified and safe vendors only. Standards should not slip during storage either, if

you allow frozen food to defrost during any point and re-freeze it, you could be creating unsafe

food conditions. For other companies to address this issue, they can follow the great example of

Graeter’s. You must first be adaptive, to stay ahead and be aware of any potential risks in the

entire process. You must then look at the entire process and formulate plans in relation to each

department. If you integrate the entire team into this process, you gain a much better look at the

attention to detail and can catch mistakes before they happen. Finally, you must open a dialogue

with the entire industry, as mentioned in the article “Learning from fellow category leaders, as

well as companies that reach beyond your own category, is a fantastic way to broaden your

thinking” (Kehres). If more businesses can utilize these steps, or create similar steps for their

own processes, they can utilize the government regulations and ensure the safest possible food

gets delivered to stores and restaurants around the country and around the world.

Restaurants have a major role to play in the business side of food safety. You hear all the

time about different larger chain restaurants like Chipotle end up in food safety crises. But just

how do these happen and what can we do the prevent these in the future? To answer this, I pull
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from my past and current experiences of working in the food service industry and working at

Chipotle. This company has been working on that solution since their first major outbreak, and

they’ve come a very long way. It is up to the restaurant companies to have good training

procedures in place, and up to the managers to ensure these procedures get translated down into

effective training. This includes staying home when sick, cooking food to the proper temp and

the creation of a positive restaurant culture. Chipotle takes this a step further, adding various

additional food safety procedures to propel them 10-15 year ahead of the entire industry, all the

while preventing an entire company collapse due to negative press. I strengthen Chipotle’s high

food safety standards by referencing an academic article written and edited by Steve Taylor,

Harshavardhan Thippareddi, Robert Seward, Tim Grant Aldsworth, Christine Dodd, and Richard

Stein entitled “Foodborne Diseases” and published by Elsevier Science & Technology in 2017.

This is an incredibly detailed and informational article intended to spread the knowledge of how

foodborne diseases are created and spread. One of the main viruses that plagued Chipotle during

their food crisis was the Norovirus. This virus is particularly challenging as it tends to mutate, as

stated “As a consequence, every 2 to 3 years, a new (drift) variant emerges, which escapes the

antibodies blocking infection that arose from prior infections” (Taylor 294). Chipotle recognized

this after their outbreak and now enacts several procedures to combat this threat even it the

businesses responsible for getting the food items to the store do not. These procedures on the

employee side include having employees sign a “red book” every time they start a shift,

indicating in writing that they do not have or have not had any illness symptoms for the last 3

days. Chipotle has also installed multiple hand sanitizing dispensers in the restaurants for both

the guests and crew, requiring crew members to use them every time after they wash their hands

with antibacterial soap. On the food side they’ve done some truly great things, including
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requiring all salsa ingredients to be macerated (mixed for at least 15 seconds) with lemon juice

before being mixed in the salsas. The acidity in the lemon juice kills all potential bacteria and

viruses that may be contaminating the food. They also have set up procedures to blanch every

vegetable except the lettuce, (which is washed twice in a vinegar water solution) dipping them in

195-degree water for 3 seconds, penetrating the vegetables and killing any illness inducing

pathogens on the inside and outside. Other restaurants can take this excellent example and will

most likely begin to incorporate similar procedures within the next several years. Working at

Chipotle and seeing the standard they set for the industry have given me tremendous insight into

what is truly possible for food safety and given me the tools and knowledge to ensure my own

cooking is up to their standards. You can also utilize such procedures while cooking at home for

yourself, ensuring that even when you cook at home you are 100% pathogen and toxin free.

While growing up, people tend to develop certain eating habits around foods they enjoy.

Over time you get used to how that food is supposed to taste or suppose to look like; this is the

most basic level of food safety: if you see a black and brown apple, it’s clearly rotted, and you

wouldn’t eat it. What if it was a heavenly piece of Cane’s chicken pulled out just slightly too

quick? You probably wouldn’t notice it was raw until after you bit through the center of it and

looked at it, which by that point would be too late if that piece of chicken was infected with a

deadly disease such as salmonella. Being aware and knowledgeable of food safety risks is a

personally responsibility as well. If one of the systems above you fails to provide a safe to eat

food item, you must be able to identify for yourself if it is safe to eat. This is pointed out in my

website source of CDC.gov. This website has immense credibility and gives valuable logical

information to the at-home-chef to look over and learn such as current food safety outbreaks,

how to prevent food poisoning while cooking at home, people most at risk and safe food and
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water in a disaster. This is illustrated in an excerpt from the website “Antibiotic resistance in

foodborne germs is a growing challenge that is made worse by overuse of antibiotics in humans

and food animals. Every year, over 400,000 people in the United States get sick from resistant

Salmonella or Campylobacter (Challenges in Food Safety). This is one example of many

informative articles on the CDC’s official website and arms the public with the knowledge to

make anyone confident in their own ability to cook safe to eat foods. Here is an image of food

safety temperature zones for cooking, cooling, and reheating food from the USDA.gov website.

If anyone in the mind-blowingly massive food manufacturing and food service industries

are to take food safety for granted or act irresponsibly, the effects trickle down all the way to

your plate. Our final line of defense for our own bodies is ourselves. The governments are the
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ones who have the responsibility to enact proper food safety laws, if they fail to do so, the rest of

the system could come crumbling down. Food manufactures are the next step in food safety,

while they may act according to government regulation, if they fail to ensure proper storage and

shipping the restaurants and at-home-chefs are at risk. Restaurants, while more popular than ever

must ensure they have well organized food safety systems, strong hazard analysis critical control

point (HACCP) plans and well-trained employees at the management and cook levels.

Ultimately, we have a personal responsibility for food safety just as the government, businesses

and restaurants have theirs. If we have the privilege to be part of the educated world this

responsibility is only enhanced. It’s important for us to know how to properly wash and cook the

food we take home from the store or farmers markets. We must know the symptoms of

foodborne illness and stay aware of current outbreaks in our country so that we don’t contribute

to it any more. Starting from the top down and working together as a whole, we can create a

responsible and effective food safety management chain to ensure that foodborne illness will be a

fraction of the risk that it is today.


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Works Cited

“Danger Zone”. United States Department of Agriculture, last modified June 28, 2017.

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/cfb11e9e-5e58-45ca-83fd-

55c2fdd9e4ac/Danger_Zone_Update_Standtime.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=cfb1

1e9e-5e58-45ca-83fd-55c2fdd9e4ac

Foodborne Diseases, edited by Steve Taylor, et al., Elsevier Science & Technology, 2017.

ProQuest Ebook Central,

https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uc/detail.action?docID=4788015.\

Food Safety Home, Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/index.html, page last reviewed Jan 14, 2019.

Food safety in the 21st century, edited by Fred Fung, Huei-Shyong Wang and Suresh Menon.

Biomedical Journal. Volume 41, Issue 2, April 2018, Pages 88-95

Kehres, Amanda. “Frozen Food Safety That Extends From Necessity to Passion”.

FSM eDigest, February 5, 2019.

https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/frozen-food-safety-that-extends-from-

necessity-to-passion/.

Whitworth, Joe. “GFSP calls for more domestic food safety investments in African countries”.

Food Safety News. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2019/02/gfsp-calls-for-more-

domestic-food-safety-investments-in-african-countries/