A common conversation my husband and I have with friends and family is, “What are you watching?” We will find a show on Showtime or Netflix and binge-watch to get caught up to the current season. Somewhere along the way, I discovered Rotten on Netflix. The first season from 2018 had six episodes. As someone working in food safety, I was reticent to watch. My preconceived notion was that they would be anti-food industry, showing the likes of Food, Inc. Many Americans have turned against my food industry because of these types of shows featuring the worst of the worst practices by the few. Before I watched, I searched for reviews like the one on Paste, “Netflix’s Rotten Is Mandatory Viewing for People Who Buy Food in the U.S.”

The food industry is comprised of people, so it is not perfect. My experience with the food industry concludes that almost all people are working their butts off to do their best with the materials and equipment given. There have been a few bad characters, and the justice system has dealt with them. As a consultant, I talk with people when they are in trouble-either for food spoilage or pathogens. I go to their website to research the company. I have discovered there is no correlation between the quality of the website and the safety of the product. No shock there. I have been to dairy, fresh vegetable, freezing and drying operations. Never does the image in my head of the facility match what I see in operation. I have been surrounded by new, gleaming stainless steel equipment, and I have been in cold, damp and dark caves. I know that what I see on the screen in a movie or documentary is simply one perspective of clips spliced together to create a show.

The season of Rotten was simply fantastic, for me. Yes, they show scenes that will creep you out, like the prisoners forced to process garlic. Ugh. It is not the food that is bad; the situations of the people showcased are rotten. There is the beekeeper whose hives were stolen. There is the chicken farmer who works day and night to care for his flock like they are his children. As people working in the food industry, I believe it is important for us to learn how other companies operate and not remain isolated, so we can instill best practices. Watching shows like Rotten can help us to think outside our factory walls. You can check out the official Netflix trailer here.

The ConnectFood website has free resources, and the folks at ConnectFood are here to help! Contact us.

About the Author
Kathy Knutson, Ph.D.
Kathy Knutson Food Safety Consulting
Dr. Kathy Knutson works nationwide with food manufacturers on recall investigations, problem-solving, training, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance. After being trained in 2016 as a Lead Instructor with the FDA-recognized curriculum for Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals, she delivered over 20 workshops to industry. With over 35 years in microbiology and 15 years of full-time teaching, Dr. Knutson is passionate about training and is an effective communicator at all levels in an organization. She has taught and consulted with companies on laboratory methods, interpretation of lab results, quality assurance, sanitation, environmental monitoring, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). As a life-long learner, Dr. Knutson is trained in prevention of intentional adulteration, a topic on the horizon for the food industry. Dr. Knutson is a contributing author at CannabisIndustryJournal.com. Dr. Knutson writes a food safety blog and contributes expert services to manufacturers through ConnectFood.com, an online site for writing HACCP and food safety plans. When Dr. Knutson is not traveling, she works from home in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and an adorable Bernedoodle. Learn more about her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathyknutsonphd

Senator Durbin and Governor Rauner

Senator Durbin and Governor Rauner Talking About Local Food

Congratulations to Jim Slama and the FamilyFarmed team for hosting another amazing Good Food Festival and thanks to all the exhibitor companies for showing off their phenomenal products! This year’s event was extra special with visits both from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner; and Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin.

In his talk, Governor Rauner emphasized the importance of locally grown, sustainable, responsible, and healthy food. He recognized the innovation and leadership of the local farm movement that creates jobs and helps all residents lead stronger and healthier lives. The Governor also highlighted how local foods help make our environment be more sustainable. Governor Rauner recognized that agriculture is the backbone of Illinois’ economy. He stated that the presence of the local food community at events like the Good Food Festival is a demonstration of the transformation taking place in the food industry.

Senator Durbin acknowledged the growing demand of local foods and stressed that this development has the ability to lessen the expanse of the supply chain, thereby reducing emissions for an increasingly carbon conscious world.

Senator Durbin highlighted the significant rise of diabetes in America and deemed it the “Hurricane Katrina of healthcare.” The Senator reported that currently, one out of eleven Americans has been diagnosed with diabetes; with a projection of one out of every three Americans having the disease by mid-century.

As local food movements continue to grow, such as the Good Food Festival, Senator Durbin noted the increased opportunity to educate school children on the importance of high quality food. He recalled a Chicago school principal telling him most of school’s students consumed “Flaming Hot Cheetos” for breakfast. Hopefully, the continued success of the local food movement will counteract such unhealthy food choices.

As Senator Durbin stated, “the lesson here is that when you have a leader or leaders who can identify a purpose that people will engage with and choose to do it for their own benefit, and for a greater social benefit, there’s no reason why it can’t happen again and again.”

Governor Rauner and Matthew Botos, ConnectFood

Governor Rauner and Matthew Botos, ConnectFood

Jim Slama, President of FamilyFarmed.org sat with Matthew Botos, CEO of ConnectFood and Richard Shell of Wagner&Shell to talk about Local Food and the upcoming and exciting Good Food Festival Some of the highlighted sections of the interview include:

  • The great events scheduled for the Good Food Festival
  • A discussion of what local food means for the greater Chicago area.
  • Annual programs, food safety, and food hubs
  • Power of web based technology for the food industry
  • Economics of Local and Organic Foods

The Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum in Chicago: http://www.goodfoodfestivals.com/

Food Companies and all of their various components are going to be affected by and responding to the FSMA; this includes such diverse food activities, including food manufacturing, production, and sales from Farm-to-Fork.

ConnectFood was honored to be able to present at the Chicago Section of Institute of Food Technologists (CSIFT) February 11 Dinner meeting regarding the recent changes in the Food Modernization Safety Act (FSMA).

The importance of food companies working together was discussed to assure the safety and quality of the food chain, which is built on three pillars:

  • Food availability: having sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
  • Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
  • Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.

Many different tools are available that tie industry, academia and government together in an efficient and synergistic manner. The greatest challenge will be in the standardization of these tools so that companies can supply safe products in the most well-organized fashion. The food industry is one of the largest and most established in the world and we are starting to learn and share information across many different mediums. It is estimated that up to 80% of all food companies have less than fifty employees and these small to medium size companies are suppliers to some of the largest companies in the world. Therefore, establishing ‘connectivity’ between these companies is crucial as the latest changes of FSMA begin to take effect.

Ultimately, we believe that food safety is one of the facets that the food industry should not compete on. ConnectFood believes that a connected community can ensure the most innovative and economical ways in which to continue to keep our food supply safe.

A CSIFT Thank You

A Chicago Section of Institute for Food Technologists Award