retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal this morning has a story about an $11.2 million fine being paid by ConAgra Foods "to resolve allegations that the company shipped contaminated peanut butter under its Peter Pan brand and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ’s Great Value label," but notes that "the fine - the largest ever levied in a food-safety case - marks the latest in a string of successful efforts by the Justice Department to hold food companies or their executives accountable for outbreaks of foodborne illnesses that, added together, have sickened thousands."

The story notes that "since 2013, the Justice Department has won convictions or guilty pleas in four criminal cases against food companies or the executives that ran them," which is as many as it won for the 24 years previous.

"In most of the recent cases, the Justice Department has successfully prosecuted defendants for introducing contaminated food into the market even without proof that officials acted with criminal intent—a nuance that has jolted the food industry, given its broad implications.

"The agency’s actions have sparked greater awareness in corporate boardrooms and many companies have stepped-up efforts to bolster food safety, according to industry executives and lawyers. Some companies have invested in new technologies to prevent the build-up of bacteria in plants and to enhance and speed up data collection and analysis."

The entire story can be found here.
KC's View:
Okay, the world has changed. That's a good thing. There are egg companies, peanut butter manufacturers, and assorted other businesses and business leaders that have behaved in a morally reprehensible way, putting the bottom line ahead of their consumers. These companies deserve to be taken to the woodshed, and there ought to be fines and prison sentences.

These businesses need to be more diligent in their manufacturing practices, more detailed in their record keeping, more responsive to concerns, and more culpable when they violate the public trust.

People's lives are at stake here.

Heads on pikes.