A recent article relating to SE in USA Today quotes a representative of the United Egg Producers’ Egg Safety Center as stating, “All the responsibility cannot be placed on the farmer. Somewhere along the line consumers have to be responsible for what they put in their bodies.”
Although government agencies including the FDA have reinforced adequate cooking as a precaution, placing the blame on a large number of SE cases cannot be regarded as a productive response to a crisis. This was emphasized by Nancy Donley, president of Safe Tables Our Priority, a consumer advocacy group.
“The problem isn’t how consumers are preparing their food; the problem is that food is contaminated,” she said, adding that “they keep trying to push the responsibility onto consumers and not taking their own responsibility. Telling me that basically, you didn’t cook it right – it’s just offensive.”
Apart from the risk of consuming undercooked eggs with a significant number of viable SE organisms there is also the danger of cross contamination in kitchens even with acceptable precautions.
At the end of the day, consumers expect eggs and other food products to be free of contamination with antibiotics, pesticides and pathogens. Given the present publicity over the recall, defensive attitudes and shifting blame is just flat bad and displays a lack of sensitivity and ignorance of the accepted principles of responding to a crisis.