Do You Really Need to Know That?

According to the Associated Press, the Agriculture Department is being pressured by the food industry not to identify retailers where tainted meat was sold except in cases of serious health risk.

The AP story goes on, "Had that been the rule in place last month, consumers would not have been told if their supermarkets sold meat from a Southern California slaughterhouse that triggered the biggest beef recall in U.S. history."

One reason for why the food industry opposes the rule is that it "could create confusion for consumers since retailer lists could be incomplete or take days or weeks to compile. Customers could have a false sense of security if their grocery store doesn't immediately show up on the list, the groups contend."

So, incomplete risk information is riskier than no information?

Another reason is competitive: "If lists of retailers selling recalled meat become public, competitors would know who to approach to offer the product at a lower price."

Now, I just wonder whose risk management concerns are the priority: consumers having a false sense of security or meat producers' competitive issues?

Of course, there also is the little question of the USDA definition of "serious health risk." Just how serious is serious? Is it defined by the number of people ill or does one or more people have to die before the recall is announced?

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