Food that comes from a large processing plant with all the required safeguards in place such as HACCP, BRC, Efesis, ISO etc. is safe to eat. Safe in the sense that you probably won't get food poisoning from it.
I have been for two interviews in the last two weeks in two huge multinational food processing plants where they proudly informed me they had all the above food safety systems in place and supplied Irish and international food service and massive supermarket chains.
When I walked out of both plants the overwhelming feeling I had was, did I really want to work in plants like this anymore when their philosophy is so contrary to my own. I need a job; but do I want to sell my soul?
I have decided I do not.
Both plants had such security in place that even gaining entry to the car park required filling out a form and several phone calls. They carry out all the pre-requisite checks, all the boxes are ticked and the paperwork is up to date before any of their product leaves the site and ends up on supermarket shelves in Belfast, Bangkok or Bournemouth.
I am sure most consumers would be very happy knowing all this so why am I not?
We have become so obsessed with hygiene in our little world that everything we eat is now boiled, sterilised, processed, aseptically packed, metal detected and has mountains of paperwork in a trail behind it.
Yet we have more auto-immune diseases now than ever. We also have more incidences of food poisoning as our sterile systems are not able to cope with any rogue bacteria or viruses. We are now attacking our own bodies.
These huge multi-nationals do not have our best interests at heart. They are adhering to all these regulations for one reason alone and that is profit. Every chance they get to cut corners in quality of ingredients or additives they take it. They pump their products full of genetically modified soya and maize without any care for the consequences further down the line. Sugar has been replaced with high fructose corn syrup as it is a cheap alternative. Natural fats are replaced with hydrogenated.
Every bag of animal feed you buy now comes with a label stating the ingredients and if it contains genetically modified ingredients. How many of our processed "safe" food products do?
As long as the consumer demands "cheap" food they will continue to supply it. As long as the customer does not care about the ingredients but demands hygiene as a higher priority then they will oblige. But cheap food ultimately has a cost. It may be produced hygienically but is it really safe to eat?