Monday, May 16, 2011

Recall This.

So last week a California company recalled 16,000 pounds of lunch meat due to concerns about listeria contamination. Hearing this on the news, I think the first reaction of most people is to thing, wow, that’s a lot of lunch meat, but when you really think about it, it’s not, and it proves why our food is the safest in the world.

Think about it; we live in a country, where for the first time in the recored history of the planet, we can enjoy food just about any way we want it. We can eat eggs over easy for breakfast without fear, have sushi for lunch, and then enjoy a rare steak and a caesar salad for dinner, all without the worry of a food borne illness. Imagine living in a country where you go to the market, and you have to live in fear of what might be lurking in your food.

Food recalls like this are actually a good thing; they prove and reinforce to us that our food is not only produced safely, but handled and processed safely; I mean, would you rather NOT know that there was an issue, and risk getting sick? No, you wouldn’t. That’s why the USDA inspects food and facilities; so we can find problems, correct them, and improve safety.

Finally, let’s put this recall in perspective. Sure, 16,000 lbs sounds like a HUGE number, and yea, that’s a lot of meat. But think of it this way; according to the last census, the Grand Rapids, Michigan metro area has around 1 million residents. Let’s assume that one in 10 of them eat a cold-cut of some kind for lunch everyday-that’s brown baggers, Subway, Jimmy John’s, ect, and that each consumes around a quarter pound of lunch meat-that’s about average. So that’s 100,000 people eating 25,000 pounds of lunch meats EVERY DAY. This recall is a drop in the bucket!! There literally isn’t enough meat in this recall to supply a mid-sized American city for a single day.

Food safety is top of mind these days for many Americans, especially farmers and ranchers. When I ship a product, whether it’s fresh apples or wheat to the flower mill, I want to make sure you’re receiving a safe, nutritious product. I know I’m doing my part, and you can rest assured the USDA and processors are doing their’s as well.

Jeff Vander Werff is a fourth generation farmer from Sparta, Michigan. Learn more about food safety and your food at