Obama administration suggests it will be tougher on food safety
The immense pistachio recall, falling hard on the heels of the peanut paste poisonings, signaled to food companies that the Obama administration will act more aggressively to protect consumers than its predecessor did. We'll have to wait and see if the federal government is able to dedicate adequate resources to the problem, however, as efforts to shrink the government continue and our food production increasingly moves overseas or under the control of bottom line cost-cutters such as WalMart.
The second largest producer of pistachios has agreed to recall its entire 2008 crop, even though no Salmonella-related illnesses have yet been documented from the tainted nuts. Experts deduce from the recall that the Obama administration will be more willing to demand expensive recalls when unsanitary practices are discovered, even before any resulting illnesses are documented. The associate commissioner for Foods at the FDA suggested that manufacturers are being put on notice of a more proactive stance by the under-resourced FDA.
The recall originated with the discovery of salmonella in nuts processed by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, California, and the subsequent identification of unsanitary processing practices on inspection of the Company's plant. Experts believe that the cautious, tentative step-by-step management of the peanut paste problem by the Bush FDA resulted in additional deaths and illnesses as contaminated product remained on the market for weeks after the problem surfaced.