What Would Danny ODay and Farfel Say Now?
Those of us who grew up in the 1950‚ fondly remember the Nestle‚ television and radio commercials featuring the wooden puppets Danny ODay and his trusty basset hound sidekick Farfel extolling the virtues of the company‚ cocoa powder for milk. For those who were not yet born to experience such great culture, Danny ODay would sing: ‚N-E-S-T-L-E-S. Nestle‚ makes the very best” and Farfel would chime in ‚Cha-a-aw-klit.” (If you want to see what I am talking about, there are various renditions of the commercial on the Internet). Back then, Nestle‚ had a wholesome image among U.S. consumers.
Fast-forward to 2009. Nestle‚ now finds itself in an epidemiological investigation involving its 0157:H7 which has sickened at least 71 consumers in 30 states according to the Centers for Disease Control. The company has also recalled various products made with the cookie dough. The focus of the investigation has been the Nestle‚ plant in Danville, Virginia.
Last weekend, a couple of news reports surfaced that revealed that inspectors for both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Commonwealth of Virginia (that was contracted by FDA to do inspections) were denied access to Nestle‚ production records at the Danville plant going back to at least 2004. Nestle‚ did not do anything illegal since under current law a company does not have to turn over its records to FDA unless there is a public health emergency, such as a food recall. Nestle‚ is claiming that it is co-operating with the FDA in the current investigation, but if the company were so confident of its food safety procedures in the past, why did it not simply turn over its production records when asked by inspectors? Had they had access to those records, the inspectors might have spotted something that could have exposed a weakness in the production process and they could have advised the company to take remedial action to correct those deficiencies BEFORE the company put adulterated product into commerce and people got sick.
The press revelations prove that that the FDA needs new statutory authority to prevent food borne illness outbreaks from occurring. They also show that FDA needs a strong and robust inspection program to make sure that the spirit and the letter of the law are being followed.
It would ruin my childhood memories if I saw an updated version of the Nestle‚ commercial from the 1950‚ that went something like this:
“N-E-S-T-L-E-S. Nestle‚ tries its very best…to hide.”