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Self-Interests Play Role In
Food Safety Initiatives

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, November 30, 2006

As we continue our exploration of those in opposition to the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative, we have dealt with those who felt the public nature of the effort was bad and those who felt it was the government’s job. Today we deal with a buy-side executive who thinks that self-interest is starting to play a role in all these buy-side efforts:

Could it be that there is an interest in using food safety as a marketing platform? Not a very good idea! And as you point out, look who has now come out of the woodwork! FMI wants to create a reliance on SQF. The NRA wants to have their guidelines. WGA has proposed their version of the solution. And what do all those things have in common? A self interest!

Indeed our correspondent has a point. FMI owns SQF, and in urging its use as a solution for food safety, it is urging to have money go to FMI. How can FMI be objective when its bottom line depends on the results? And does it make any sense to have growers pay money to support the supermarket association?

The NRA initiative is still developing, but NRA is unwilling to join the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative, indicating it wants its own place at the table. Is this because the Buyer-led effort is insufficient or because NRA has its own need to serve a purpose here?

WGA has proposed a Marketing Order, but marketing orders are voted on by growers, not buyers or consumers. So it is a proposal to keep the power close at hand.

As far as the signatory companies go, one big complaint about the effort was the outreach to consumer media. It raised the question as to whether some companies were looking to have themselves appear on the side of the angels as opposed to those who refused to sign.

Isn’t the most likely result of all this a panoply of competitive standards?

And if everyone is busy defending their own turf, isn’t it likely that consumer interests will suffer

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