Bumblebee Does a Very Public Recall of Canned Tuna. Does This Make You Feel Good (Or Bad) About Our Food Supply?

Readers, take a look at this recent news story from CNN about a recall of canned tuna:

Bumblebee Foods, Tri-Union Seafoods Recall Canned Chunk Light Tuna

To me, it's impressive that all of this information is available about a can of tuna sitting on your store shelf: the specific lots, the codes to each lot and so on. But what's even more impressive to me is the involved companies' willingness to go public--very public--with the recall.

By comparison, do you remember the so-called "tomato recall" back in 2008? The one handled so poorly that authorities couldn’t even trace the right vegetable? It turned out it wasn't tomatoes at all, but rather jalapenos that were the source of the contamination. Worse still, the "discovery" of that contamination only began long after people started getting sick.

Here, the tuna recall was anticipatory. It happened before anyone got sick, and it's plausible, even likely, that no one would have even gotten sick in the first place.

I'm sure this post sounds like I'm on Big Food’s payroll, that I've suddenly and inexplicably dropped my consumer empowerment philosophy and sold out to greedy corporate interests. Perhaps. And yet objectively, on some level, this little tuna recall is a small miracle. It's a miracle of high-quality manufacturing, of tracking products and shipments, of knowing what you made, and when you made it. And of being willing to tell the media and the public ahead of time, rather than following the all-too-typical corporate playbook of going radio silent, crossing your fingers... and hoping nobody gets seriously ill.

And yet, after reading the above article from CNN, and despite the fact that I'm intellectually well aware that these companies did the right thing and that our canned tuna supply is safe, the next time I open up a can of tuna, regardless of the brand, I'll make a mental association with this story, and I'll get a vaguely icky feeling, as if that next can of tuna is somehow contaminated too.

It's like these companies can't win for trying. They look bad even when they're perfectly anticipatory and no one gets sick.

Readers, what do you think about all this?

PS: There's one more angle to this story that ties in strikingly with one of Casual Kitchen's most important themes. Stay tuned for next week's post!

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