retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of the plethora of meat recalls that have taken place in recent months, which have led to some criticisms of the government’s vigilance (or lack of vigilance), we’ve gotten a number of emails.

MNB user Jeff Nalley wrote:

“What truly points out the Government’s lack of prompt actions is when the lot recall numbers date back 3 to 6 months. In my opinion that is too late to even matter, unless the stores are using re-dating when they claim they do not.

“The USDA claims they don't have enough inspectors to effectively monitor the plants when it is probably the inspectors that they do have aren't properly trained, obviously, in pointing out violations and acting in accordance to the procedures already in place. When companies like Tyson and ConAgra have to resort to hiring illegal immigrants to perform rendering jobs that US Citizens refuse to do and do not properly train their employees on safety and sanitary guidelines then the USDA system is destined to fail. The industry needs to police itself, knowing that failure to provide safe products will cause irreparable business damage. Grocery retailers will not do business with a processor who can't guarantee the safety of their products and shouldn't try to for their own protection and those of its customers. If ever a case was needed for irradiated meats - this concern is a certain valid argument for it. A little glowin' in the colon is better than giardia lambia, E-coli, BSE, Listeria that can kill our children and elders.”



MNB user Jim Mathe chimed in:

“The people that (cooked) the food should also be held responsible as proper preparation kills the E-Coli, etc. Why is it that we in America never take responsibility for our own actions, always look to lay the blame for our problems elsewhere?


Last week, a member of the MNB community suggested that irradiation would be better accepted if the name were changed; we commented that we thought the acceptance of the name irradiation implied a certain maturity on the part of the American public. This morning,, he replies:

“When I recently suggested a new name for the current irradiation processes, it was not with the idea of hoodwinking the public. I probably could have been more clear. I referred to the Regan MX/Peacekeeper name change to point out that if that rhetorical ruse worked, surely an accurate name change should be reasonable and effective.

“Oddly enough, when the Peacekeeper name change came out, I was working in an engineering group in a plant that produced the MX second stage rocket motor case. When we heard it for the first time we nearly fell on the floor laughing. We couldn't believe it, and there were a lot of jokes flying around about how much better it would be to be nuked by a missile keeping the peace rather than one waging a war. But somehow that little rhetorical sleight-of-hand made it sound more patriotic than the MX. And he got a lot of serious mileage out of it.

“I couldn't believe it. (Which just goes to show that rocket scientists don't necessarily have much of a handle on marketing strategies.)

“Face it, today's process is so far removed from the original process that it deserves a new and more accurate name (unlike the MX that already had one).
“The original irradiation process I first heard about in the 70's did indeed leave trace amounts of radioactivity in the meat and the original controversy was whether or not that radiation, over time, would collect in the bodies of consumers and cause a health risk down the road.

“The usual (and predictable) suspects said we would poison our children with radioactive burgers.

“That is no longer the case.

“However, by staying with a nomenclature that contains a form of the word radiation, we give the doomsayers some ammunition right off the bat. Not that they'll convince the well informed, but there is a huge amount of population that isn't informed.

“My favorite grocery store tried selling irradiated hamburger patties over a year ago and some nut group picketed the store. They were telling people that irradiated meat was dangerous, poisonous, etc., and since a great share of those folks were probably uninformed...

“My main gripe was that you couldn't fit two of the thin patties side-by-side in my George Foreman Fat Buster, otherwise they were great.

“Yes, it would be great if we could make irradiated a nice, warm, fuzzy and universally accepted word, but why push the weight uphill any farther than you have to and take more time getting to where you want the destination to end?

“Electro-sterilized tells the truth without saying the "R" word and it's a hell of a lot harder to organize an anti-electro picket than an anti-radiation picket.

“Does that make sense?”


Absolutely.

And we have to say, we think this may be the first email MNB has gotten from a genuine rocket scientist…




We wrote last week about Wal-Mart’s troubles in Germany. MNB user Bob Vereen writes to offer a first-hand perspective:

“I have visited the Dortmund Wal-Mart store twice over a period of several years and that store, with a motivated manager, is doing very well. If the company can get more inspirational, motivational managers like that one, they'll be successful.

“Comparing a full-line, multi-brand retailer like Wal-Mart to Aldi is not valid, just as Aldi here, with its markedly lower prices (and shorter selections and mostly private brands) can not actually be compared to Kroger, Meijer, Marsh, etc. They are two different retailing philosophies, each somewhat successful in its own way.”


Fair enough.



And finally, we got an email from MNB user Peter White questioning the specifics of our story last week about how, back in the seventies, Procter & Gamble was chagrined to discover that the mom on the Ivory Soap box was actually Marilyn Chambers, a pornographic movie star.

“I was under the impression that Marilyn Chambers was the baby on the box. Not the mother.”

Nope. She was the mom. And we know this not from any in-depth knowledge of seventies-era pornography, but from researching the question on the Internet.

Really.
KC's View: