Covering the increasingly urgent matter of food supply safety, the New York Times’s Michael Moss delivers a classic of investigative reporting in his examination of manufacturer instructions relating to frozen entrees. The thrust of the article is that, as food manufacturers look to cut costs and increase imports of ingredients, more and more pathogens are being introduced, even into foods previously believed immune to problems. As a result, manufacturers are putting the onus on consumers to take specific technical steps to ensure that whatever might ail them is killed. These steps, as Moss notes, involve complex cooking instructions that require knowing the peculiarities of one’s microwave oven, using a food thermometer, and more. And tests ordered by the newspaper showed that often, taking reasonable precautions was not enough.

The article quotes a man whose 1-year-old got sick after eating a pot pie made by the conglomerate ConAgra, and who sued the company.

You don’t assume these dangers to be right in your freezer,” said Mr. Warren, who settled with ConAgra. He does not own a food thermometer and was not certain his microwave oven met the minimum 1,100-wattage requirement in the new pot pie instructions. “I do think that consumers bear responsibility to reasonably look out for their well-being, but the entire reason for this product to exist is for its convenience.”

Author

  • Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.