Monday, January 05, 2009

How Much Oversight of Small Food Producers/Distributors?

There's a heated discussion going on at The Ethicurean regarding one of Bill Marler's Ten Top Food Safety Challenges for 2009:

Local Food Safety Cop?: In Which Bill Marler Is Compared To John Travolta, Ally McBeal, Julia Roberts, And 80s Pop Star Tiffany, All In One Place

The Challenge in question, Marler's #2:
2. Local Food: Outbreaks linked to local food and/or farmer's markets. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups and food co-ops need to demonstrate knowledge and practice of food safety, and be inspected. In addition to produce and meats/fish, prepared items are currently unsupervised.
I don't see anything threatening about it.

The author of the Ethicurean blog post however takes issue with it. She argues that since "small-scale producers are often the most responsible," they should be treated differently than large-scale producers when it comes to food safety.

She says that the small producer is not in it for the money:
"Unlike the large-scale processors, they put that quality above their financial interests day after day after day."
But she also says:
"If the cost of producing quality food for informed consumers becomes prohibitive," it could put the small producer out of business.
So, it is about making a profit?

I've read her post a number of times and I can't figure out if she is against licensure, inspection and oversight for small producers or not ... which, I believe, was the gist of Marler's #2 challenge.

In an earlier post, I referred to the food co-op Manna Storehouse. They didn't want to get a license. The state of Ohio wanted them to. After a year, the state conducted a raid and confiscated their product. Manna said it was unfair. However, some of Manna Storehouse's beef was discovered in a food service freezer at Oberlin College. I don't understand why a food co-op that knowingly distributes meat to a College shouldn't be licensed and inspected.

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