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.
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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