Consumers and food safety: A food industry perspective
Consumers have a right to expect that the foods they purchase and consume will be safe and of high quality. They have a right to voice their opinions about the food control procedures, standards and activities that governments and industry use to ascertain that the food supply has these characteristics. While consumers, governments and others play an important part in ensuring food safety and quality, in free-market societies the ultimate responsibility for investing the physical and managerial resources that are necessary for implementing appropriate controls lies with the food industry - the industry that continuously oversees the manufacture and processing of foods, from raw ingredients to finished product, day in and day out.1
Although in the broadest sense the food industry encompasses all those who are involved in growing, processing, manufacturing or distributing food, from the farm to retail shops and restaurants, this article focuses on manufacturers of packaged food products who have clearly identified products and a long history of outreach to consumers.
While this is true, private enterprise recognizes that its success - measured in terms of profitability - is completely dependent on consumer satisfaction. A reflection of consumers' satisfaction is their continuing purchase of the same products. Food manufacturers and marketers thus have an investment in their product identities (brand names) that they naturally wish to protect. It is in their interest, therefore, to establish and administer the controls that ensure that their products do indeed meet consumer expectations of safety and quality.