Food Safety Counsel
The True Benefits of Consumer Confidence in Food Safety
FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor, recently addressed the issue of the consumer confidence in food safety at China’s International Food Safety and Quality Conference last week. Taylor described the issue as “an important goal in its own right.” He stressed the issue is just as important as public health in regards to food safety. Taylor argued that we all benefit if we do not have worry about food safety. In turn, although Taylor pointed out that most consumers know that food is not 100% risk-free, he did explain that they expect a certain “basic level” of safety.
During the conference, Taylor also described the economic impact that consumer confidence can have on the industry as a whole. He stated, “it provides the foundation for the growing global trade, as well as robust domestic markets that are open to innovative products and technologies.” In contrast, he explained what happens when consumer confidence is lost. If a company’s product results in an illness outbreak, the company pays the price: they lose consumer confidence and profit. Often times, assuming the company survives, it can take a significant amount of time to rebuild consumer confidence.
Taylor also discussed how countries are revamping their food safety programs to help enhance consumer confidence abroad. Examples of these countries include: Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. Taylor explained how the role of government is vital in aiding these new food safety initiatives. They can, in the end, and if done right, provide very “credible and effective” oversight.
Ultimately, Taylor stressed how it is the industry’s commitment and responsibility to food safety that will ultimately affect consumer confidence. As we always say, if industry continues lean forward in the food safety foxhole (as opposed to looking for ways to hide in it), both industry and the consumer will be better off.