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10 January 2010 - Your Thoughts are Requested

Several times a year I like to do what I call a Shout Out to you, the producers, on a given issue and I begin 2010 with one of those Shout Outs.

First of all let me give you the e-mail address for your response...the address is Orion@agbizweek.com. The question this week is "Are we investing enough Check-off dollars to assure consumers they are getting the very safest food possible?" I direct it to all producers, and since beef-recalls get a lot of attention in general media when they occur, I would especially like to hear from beef producers.

As I look back to 2009, in early March, Beef Check-off dollars were invested in staging the Industry Safety Summit. More than 160 representatives from all sectors of the beef production, processing and marketing chain were in attendance. On the agenda; discussions focused on emerging safety issues and possible solutions with a goal of developing industry wide, science-based strategies to help each sector to reduce the incidence of food-borne pathogens.

That, of course, is an outstanding goal on the part of the industry and I hope it can be accomplished. Yet every time there is a recall, ground beef seems to be more susceptible to problems than other cuts of meat and health officials and consumers again raise the question, "Is the industry doing enough to assure consumers that our food is a safe product?"

Every year, the Beef Check-off and other industry partners invest millions of dollars in food safety research. My question to you...Is that enough? I would like to hear your ideas on what else can be done to maintain consumer's confidence in beef and other food products as safe, nutritious foods. And who do you think should bear the brunt of the responsibility for food safety...producers, processors, retailers or consumers?

Frankly, I'm tired of hearing the criticism of the food industry every time there is a recall, tired of hearing critics say our system doesn't work. But I would like to hear from you; not only would I like to hear if you feel investing more check-off dollars would help, but more importantly, where and how should the dollars be spent? I will welcome your comments at Orion@agbizweek.com. and I will share some of them in future columns.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.