Who will really suffer from the meat recall

3 Oct

With all the talk lately in my region on one of theTHE biggest meat recalls in Canadian history, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it myself. It has put a damper on my beef purchases as of late and it will for some time in the future until I feel they have sorted all this out to my satisfaction. Mine, not theirs, not the governments.
A headline that I read this evening is really striking a chord with me and I guess it has really been the underlying issue for me in all of this is along. How did this happen and how did it get so big? The headline stated lawsuit alleges alberta beef company puts profits above safety of consumers. Hmm.
Am I shock to hear that? Yes. And sadly, no.
Yes, because having worked in different production facilities, I am well aware of the microbial testing procedures and cleaning routines and quality assurance programs that exist in food production facilities like this. There are sanitation schedules and there are routine tests that get done daily. I’m not sure I believe a mess of this size happened over night, with all those checks and balances in place.
No, because sadly, working for those companies has taught me all too well what really goes on behind the scenes. One example I can think of off the top of m head is when we used to have “customer” visits or plant audits. Many customers require, as part of their contracts with facilities, that they be able to drop in unannounced and have access to all areas, after all it’s their name on the line at the end of the day if something were to go wrong. So, what’s a facility to do when there are areas that just arent suitable for viewing? They section it off with red tape and tell the customer they are welding or doing maintenance in that particular area so they can’t take them there. I have witnessed many questionable situations in my day and sadly as the company gets bigger and bigger, you would think they would be more responsible, but with more money on the line, well, priorities change.
Reportable limits is another area the general public may not be aware of either. Take flour for instance, did you know there is allowed to be X number of bug parts per gram before they need to report it? Grey matter in meat? Same thing. Just because they say its zero, it isn’t. It’s just below what they have deemed to be “reportable limits”. Hair, bone fragments, chemicals, even microbial content. At some level, they are all allowed to be there. What I’m really getting at, is when a company agrees to fully open disclosure, what they really mean is we will be completely honest with what we want you to know. How do we ever fully trust in these companies?
So at the end of the day when I read a headline like that, there is a huge part of me that is nodding along while reading. Chances are once the contamination was caught on their end, there was a panic about how to contain it and handle it as quietly as possible. Only when they realized they had no other option did they report it. Even then, the article stated it was 8 days before products began to be recalled. Today the recall was expanded once again.
Whatever did or didn’t happen within the company, one thing I do know for sure is that my heart goes out to all the workers and families of those workers. While the public is relieved to have the plant shut down, there is little mention about the workers who will be affected by the scandal. And while the company may be taking the fall publicly, it’s the individuals who will suffer in the long run. If the company really put their profits over the safety of consumers my guess is they will have little regard for their own as well.


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