Schools Training

A Writer Reflects on Need for Food Quality Training, Food Inspectors

30 APR 2012
Career Path : Food Safety and Quality

The bad news is that this April a cow at a rendering plant in California tested positive for what is commonly known as mad cow disease. The good news is that food quality training programs for food inspectors must be working. The infected cow didn’t enter our food chain.

I say this, not as a graduate of food quality training, nor as a food inspector, but as a concerned consumer, who is looking for the silver lining in this disturbing news about a possible resurgence in bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

But some consumer rights groups have argued that the randomized tests performed on American cows are not enough to protect human health. Should more graduates of food quality training be put on the case?

Elsewhere in the world, some say yes. South Korea, for instance, has announced that it will increase testing on American beef – more work, perhaps, for its graduates of food quality training.

In Canada, the question of jobs for graduates of food quality training has recently been the topic of hot debate as the government has taken steps to reconfigure our food safety system.

Canada is not the only country to be discussing budget cuts that could affect graduates of food quality training. South of the border, the Obama administration has also proposed the elimination of a program that tests fresh produce for safety. The testing of fresh fruits and vegetables for such contaminants as salmonella and E. coli would be passed on to other agencies at the local rather than federal level.

But there have been many cases in the past month in Canada and the United States involving quality assurance and quality control of the food system:

  • Three people in Toronto fell ill after eating fermented fish thought to have been contaminated with Costridium botulinum.
  • A salmonella outbreak involving sushi tuna affected 160 people across 20 states.
  • American cantaloupe producers are heeding advice from food quality training professionals and instituting growing and packing reforms that are meant to limit the risk of Listeria. (A 2011 outbreak caused at least 36 deaths.)
  • Graduates of food quality training are hard at work in Missouri, trying to identify the source (or sources) of E.coli infections that have affected at least 15 residents.

These new stories underscore the importance of the tasks performed by our graduates of food quality training. Whether they work in the public or private sectors, in Canada or another country, they protect us from the dangers posed by food borne illnesses. And for that, I am truly grateful.