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Schachter, Hendy & Johnson, Attorneys At Law

Food manufacturers make consumers responsible

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    Attorney Ronald E. Johnson of Schachter & Hendy concentrates on legal issues regarding defective products.  A recent article in the The New York Times says that food companies are expecting consumers to be responsible for making sure the food they sell  is not filled with dangerous pathogens. 

    According to the article, ConAgra Foods which sells Banquet frozen pot pies detected some salmonella but was not able to pinpoint where it came from in the 25 ingredients included in the pies.  They decided to make the consumer responsible for what they call the “kill step,” the point at which the pathogens are eliminated.  ConAngra Foods, which sold 100 million pot pies last year, included food safety instructions that cautioned that internal temperature when cooking the pot pies  needed to reach 165 Degrees F.  ConAgra also added food safety instructions to its other frozen meals, including the Healthy Choice brand.

     The problem is serious with frozen foods.  Federal regulators such as the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention have pushed companies to include cooking instructions with detailed food safety guides, but some companies don't include these instructions, some are using outdated safety guidelines, and some have only abbreviated guidelines on the side of the boxes in tiny print that consumers probably don't read.

    According to the article, there are estimated to be 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses every year that go unreported or are not traced to the source.  Food safety experts think it is the responsibility of the food manufacturer to ensure their food's safety, not the consumer.

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