As a kid I was petrified of beef. What if I ate a burger, got infected with mad cow disease and went crazy years later? While I was afraid of beef, foods like peanut butter, eggs, sprouts and cantaloupes were definitely not on my fear radar. But maybe they should have been, because all of those foodstuffs have been responsible for deadly outbreaks in the past few years. Since July, American cantaloupes contaminated with the bacteria Listeria have sickened over 100 people and killed 25 people—the worst food-spread disease outbreak in decades.
The infected cantaloupes were recently tracked to a single farm in Colorado, which was found to have conditions conducive to Listeria growth and spread. Disturbingly, the farm had passed a food safety audit just before the outbreak started. These audits are common practice, so that restaurants and grocery stores can ensure they’re getting safe food. But there are currently no set guidelines for audits or auditor training and, worse still, the auditors have a conflict of interest because they are hired by the suppliers themselves.