Dear President Obama,
You're a technophile I have heard. So, I have an improvement to suggest for the FDA, particularly how it deals with food-safety issues.
In the age of web technology, the FDA's methodology is just plain laughable.
I propose a webpage with a database that would enable citizens to submit food-safety alerts.
This should be damn simple. The post office has a list of all addresses in the country. Why can't the FDA create a list of all foods sold in the U.S. plus a list of all food sellers (grocery stores, restaurants, etc.).
Consumers who suspect they have some bad food could go online and within a few clicks select their product and where they bought it from. They could describe the issue, etc.
In the background, the system would monitor products for unusual activities (larger than normal number of alerts) and create an alerting response when something looks wrong.
If the FDA doesn't have the wherewithal to design and create such a system. I would be glad to take this on with my strategic partner Centrax Corporation (they build high-premium e-learning and web programs and could whip this up no problem).
Seriously, the FDA could save lives very simply and at a relatively low cost. Let's just do it.
Thank you Mr. President for considering this.
Please let me know what I'm supposed to do with the yogurt in my refrigerator that tastes bad. If you think I'm going to call one of those numbers, you just don't get it.
Update Thursday April 16th
Yesterday I decided I should make those calls. I called the yogurt manufacturer and went to their website and I called my regional FDA hotline person (who called me back today, a day later). Stoneyfield Farm has posted the following recall information (their phone complaint line was horribly implemented with long wait times and no one has gotten back to me from their online complaint system):
Londonderry, NH - April 3, 2009 Stonyfield Farm is conducting a voluntary recall of Fat Free Plain Quarts in Stonyfield Farm branded containers limited to specific dates. The products are being recalled because they may contain a presence of food grade sanitizer.
Affected products are limited to Stonyfield Farm 32 ounce Fat Free
Plain yogurt UPC # 52159 00006 carrying one of the following product
codes printed along the cup bottom that start with the following date
· May 06 09 Time stamped 22:17 thru 23:59 (limited to these specific time stamps only)
· May 07 09 All time stamps
Approximately 44,000 quarts were distributed to retail accounts nationally.
We have received several reports of people noticing an off-taste when eating the product. We have received no reports of illness of any kind after consuming the product.
The issue was a result of human error in not following our Company's standard operating procedures. Stonyfield has taken all the necessary corrective action to prevent this from occurring again.
Consumers are advised not to consume the product and to return opened and unopened containers to the store where it was purchased. Anyone returning these products will be reimbursed for the full value of their purchase.
Customers with questions should contact Stonyfield Farm Consumer Relations at 1-800-Pro-Cows (776-2697) or visit our website at www.stonyfield.com.
This is listed on their website when I checked today. I didn't notice it yesterday (they have a very busy home page), but it probably was there.
Note to Stonyfield Farm:
I am not satisfied with your announcement stating, "We have received several reports of people noticing an off-taste
when eating the product. We have received no reports of illness of any
kind after consuming the product."
THAT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!! You should (1) tell us what we ingested, (2) get health experts to provide us with some expert guidance on what symptoms or dangers we might be subject to.
I just called Stonyfield Farm Consumer Hotline again (and actually got through to them today) and the guy said it was a Food-Grade Sanitizer, FDA approved, organic, etc. He told me ingesting it wouldn't hurt me, but I'm not convinced. I told him I wanted to know what it was I ingested. He wouldn't or couldn't tell me. I asked him if I ate a whole container whether it would hurt me...He said no.
Hey Stonyfield. You can do better...