November 10 – The Coast of Washington State – Part 1
Artisan cheeses, crafted in age-old tradition, reverberating deliciously across the palate – what a satisfying sensation! Such is life for cheese enthusiasts everywhere who have savored any of the award-winning cheeses from the Estrella Family Creamery.
However, if you’re visiting this site you’re probably aware of some stinky hubbub surrounding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) October 2010 actions toward the Estrella Family Creamery over the subject of a strain of bacteria known as listeria monocytogene. Even if you’re slightly squeamish about things legal or biologic, we invite you to please read further.
Have you ever heard a story about someone, repeated that story yourself, or possibly even made a decision based on the story, only to discover afterward that there was more to the story…and if only you’d known?! If you’re human and still have a pulse, you’re probably in the, “Been there, done that!” column. Ouch!
Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Ca. 428 B.C., Euripides is credited with, “In case of dispute, never dare to judge until you’ve heard the other side.” King Solomon the Wise, right around 935 B.C., wrote, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17).
Particularly in our close personal and workplace relationships, most of us learned the premise long ago: we can avoid potential egg-on-the-face embarrassment if we will but take the time to ask a few clarifying questions after the sometimes dubious messenger has authoritatively led us to believe we’ve just heard “all that can be known about the matter.” Oh, the pain of not being vigilant over our lips – and keyboards.
The central question here is, “Is there another side to the story I just heard?”
The same premise holds true for each of us as consumers as we navigate the outbreak world of e. coli, salmonella, and listeria – to name but three potential bacteria – in our food supply. Asking questions and seeking knowledge in this vein is particularly important when it is a small business (without a PR department) that’s been besmirched publicly. There is no crime when a small business owner cannot, with skillful and precise polish, strategically respond to issues which rise to the level of press releases, reporters, and bloggers the world over. Think about it: The business owner is busy doing whatever it is they have a passion for; they’re not equipped to or interested in handling a PR controversy.
Further, We the People elect legislators, who in turn create agencies to regulate this, that and the other aspect of our freedoms. If We the Regulated People don’t seek to hold these agencies in check to maintain our Constitutional freedoms, we will find the government agencies will run roughshod over them and we’ll lose them. Please take this as an encouragement to communicate your concerns with the Legislators that represent you.
One might reasonably conclude that the FDA’s actions towards the Estrella Family Creamery is just such a situation. If it is, there is certainly blame on both sides for failure to find better ways to communicate. But, we must ask which party has the multi-billion dollar tax-funded budget to educate and train its employees in the art of communication and de-escalation? On this point there is absolutely no doubt. And, while this website won’t rehash every detail, we urge Margaret Hamburg, M.D., the current commissioner for the FDA, to do a brief inquiry of her own regarding the behavior of FDA employees in the field. We are not making specific allegations herein. We’re just saying that as American taxpayers and voters we want fuller disclosure from the FDA and an examination into the heavy-handed tactics used in the field. We are not pleased, and we’ll make sure people know.
…to be continued.