Transportation and retail food handling are critical components of the food supply chain. Unfortunately, food safety issues that arise during these key functions are often overlooked. Food transport presents multiple vulnerability points that can, without sufficient oversight, lead to dangerous public health outcomes. Retail stores have a history of selling product after unsafe handling or management—sometimes knowingly doing so.
It is imperative that workers in these two areas have adequate whistleblower protections.
Food integrity issues range from incorrect temperature exposure on loading docks to bioterrorism threats. There are multiple methods for transporting food, but the vast majority of food that is shipped within the United States is moved by trucks, frequently traveling over 1000 miles to reach its destination. At all points on its long journey, not only are flavor and nutrients compromised, but the likelihood and opportunity for contamination increased.
Although rarely discussed, distribution is a major part of the food supply chain. Food distribution traditionally involves warehouses and distribution centers. Warehouses store products before transport, while distribution centers collect different streams of products and repackage them. The amount of product, and high product turnaround, presents countless opportunities for contamination.
Consumers depend on food retailers to provide safe and wholesome foods. The conduct of retail establishments such as grocery stores or restaurants gives rise to several issues involving both the safety of food (contamination) and the actual or perceived wholesomeness of the food (false labeling).
GAP was responsible for helping to expose one of the most egregious acts of large-scale retail sanitation issues – the Food Lion case involving horrific meat preparation practices – which crippled that company.
Not only have whistleblowers been critical in exposing poor hygiene at food retail, they have also called into question misrepresentations about deceptive branding and labeling. Over the years, many acts of product mislabeling have been revealed to GAP, which has crusaded against the intentional mislabeling of organic products and deceptive retail practices. We work with whistleblowers to promote policy changes and reforms in food labeling.