Monday, September 13, 2010

Kirsten Gillibrand Wants to Force Grocery Stores to Post Recall Information

I have been ambivalent towards our junior senator Kirsten Gillibrand ever since Governor Patterson appointed her in 2008. I was, like many other New Yorkers, surprised that out of the pool of eager candidates Patterson would choose such a starry eyed right leaning new comer. I don't mind her flip flopping on gun control issues because her constituency has changed since her days as a local representative for her rural upstate community. Now that she represents communities like the South Bronx, her stand on major issues should change to reflect the needs of those in her jurisdiction.

Yesterday I first heard that Gillibrand was suggesting that grocery stores post information about food recalls so that consumers could be informed. This steams me because once again Gillibrand seems uninformed about what the real problem is. Forcing grocery stores (many of which in NYC's five boroughs are privately owned franchises rather than huge chains with out of state central management) to post recall information is a bit like assigning blame to those businesses. "We sold you tainted meat, so sorry, maybe you should shop somewhere else from now on." And fining them for non compliance is even worse!

The problems with food safety in this country have been created by huge central processors. It is not fair to have the grocery store owners clean up the mess of these irresponsible processors. Besides, this bit of legislation would highlight the fact that the FDA does not have the authority to issue a recall. And that most recalls happen after the bulk of the recall foods have been consumed or have gone bad. Did you know that the eggs of the recent Iowa egg recall were sold in June and July? The peak of illness were recorded by the CDC in late June and early July. The recall was issued August 13th. How many of you have 6 week old eggs in your refrigerator? It took them 6 weeks to issue a recall once they saw that instances of illnesses were declining. I think this is a case of corporate irresponsibility.

Ms. Gillibrand, please do not endorse this bit of legislation. Do not make small business owners do the dirty work for dirty processors. I have no doubt that the food industry will endorse this plan, but don't fall for it!! This will not make us safer, it will only shift the blame!


  1. I don't know if I agree with you on this one. I think that if a food item is on recall, the store needs to let consumers know about it. I understand what you are saying, but people need to realize that it's not the grocery stores fault that an item was recalled, they didn't grow the food, or raise the meat, etc. Trader Joe's has, on occasion, had an item or two that has been recalled, they have posted the items so that people can check their pantry and get rid of the item. Hasn't kept me from shopping there though. I don't blame Trader Joe's for the problem, as I said, they didn't make the food.

  2. I actually disagree as well. I think most people understand that grocery stores are purveyors and not growers. Recall information should be as widely available as humanly possible, even if it's late. All it will mean is posting some pieces of paper from time to time: not a major expense. Also, depending what information is on the notices, it could help to increase awareness of problems with major food growers.

  3. See there you go. That's why I write this blog, to gain a larger perspective. I appreciate your dissention. I think I have figured out what my dissatisfaction is on this issue.

    First, if the Senator had made this part of a larger bill with new regulations for the processors and granted the FDA the ability to issue recalls on their own, I probably would have felt that it was okay. But being brought to the table with no adressing of the real problem (the tainted food in the first place) seems like bad politics meant to sweep the real problem under the rug.

    Secondly, while you're right Anonymous, executing the regulations wouldn't be too expensive, it would impose a $50,000 fine on stores that did not comply. That seems way too high of a fine on a small business.

  4. I concurr that the bill does little to address the real issues, and the fine is too steep, but also easliy avoidable. OVerall it's a waste of time, money and effort, all of which would be better spent regulating the companies that actually produce the food we eat.