Column Pieter Vos: The price of food safety
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Column Pieter Vos: The price of food safety

  • 16 May 2022
  • By: Pieter Vos , directeur Nutrilab

When it comes to ensuring our safety, drastic measures are often taken. Think of the lockdowns during the Corona crisis. Children who did not go to school, people who became lonely. Look at the radical measures taken during the bird flu crisis. Just one goose with full-blown influenza flies over a farm and all the chickens and chicks are eliminated. Millions of animals have already been burned and killed. 

In the food industry we are also familiar with the pain associated with destruction. If analyses show that the content of a contaminant exceeds a threshold value, entire batches are recalled and destroyed. 

If we, as a lab, detect an excess, we have to report it (even though it is really not always the case that deaths will occur if you are at a certain limit). Thus, we share the customer's grief and frustration, we share the feeling of powerlessness: about the enormous waste, and a sense of injustice. 

On the one hand, I understand the drastic measures. After all, it is a matter of the safety of us all. But on the other hand... There is tension. Does the goal always justify the means? What price do we pay for our safety? 

Consumers demand safe food. This is only logical. Their voice is heard loud and clear in society. However, the entrepreneurs and farmers remain silent. They have the predominant feeling: 'I am not being listened to'. 

I therefore plead for a quick crisis response team of experts in crisis situations relating to food safety. In addition to the NVWA, that team would also include the subject matter experts and the laboratory. But above all the company concerned. Involve the entrepreneur in the decision-making process which will determine the continued existence of his or her business.

The consequences of rigorous measures are complex and too costly. Entrepreneurs want to be heard; give them an audience.

Pieter Vos
Director Nutrilab

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2022