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FDA’s new “Focus on the Positive” Campaign

April 3rd, 2009

Yesterday morning I read this article on Civil Eats. I just had to share because I was completely blown away when I read about the FDA’s new “Focus on the Positive” campaign.

Newly appointed Food and Drug Administration chief Joshua Sharfstein announced this afternoon that in the wake of this week’s pistachio scandal, the agency would launch a new Safest Food Awareness Bureau in early 2010. “We live in such a ‘bad news’ world,” said Sharfstein, “this new approach will focus on the positive news.” Instead of announcing when food is contaminated, the new agency will be tasked with issuing a daily announcement of non-contaminated American foods, slowly phasing out the current policy of announcing food recalls directly to the public.

“This new program addresses the issue of an upswing in the number of food safety challenges, a shift that we do not see swinging back down in the next few decades,” Sharfstein stated at today’s press conference. This may be good news for consumers – instead of focusing on the increasing number of things we cannot eat, we can celebrate the few things we can. Sharfstein announced that the FDA will begin a 9-month shift towards the new approach this month, with a campaign entitled “Focus on the Positive.” Under the new guidelines, announcements about food contamination will be “focused on proactive statements, for example: ‘Try eating almonds and lettuce today, but stay away from spinach’”, said Sharfstein. The new agency plans on announcing its interim commissioner at the end of May 2009.


UPDATE: Evidently this was an April Fools joke, so I apologize for putting it on my blog. I in no way wanted to participate in April Fools (even 3 days later). I know it’s just a joke on one day, but I don’t believe it belongs in a professional environment. It’s one thing to joke with your friends & family, it’s entirely something different to deceive the people who rely on you for a source of credible information. In my opinion, websites that strive to be a source of reliable & credible information should not participate in April Fools. I have always used Civil Eats as a source of information for what’s going on in the world of food, I now will read the articles they publish with an even bigger grain of salt. If they feel comfortable deceiving their readers on April Fools they probably feel comfortable bending the truth at other times to make their point. Perhaps my opinion is too strong on this matter, but I do believe that when you think something is OK in one instance no matter how trivial, it often spills into other areas of your life. In an era where it seems like many things coming from the government agencies (particularly the FDA) sound like April Fools jokes, it’s not particularly entertaining to joke about things like food contamination that actually cause deaths. I hope none of the families of people who died from the peanut contamination read this article as I’m sure it would have been particularly disturbing for them.

13 Comments to “FDA’s new “Focus on the Positive” Campaign”
  1. Mangochild on April 3, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I saw this and I couldn’t believe it! How can knowledge and awareness be bad? Without knowing the extent of a problem, it can’t be fixed. Hiding from the issue only hurts us all.
    There is already too much secrecy – even the recalls and news we hear now are filtered, I’m sure. And we never hear about the follow-up/monitoring anyway – its just “now peanuts [or whatever] are safe again”. Why are they suddenly “okay” and are they staying that way?
    I think that quote said it right there – “instead of focusing on the increasing number of things we cannot eat, we can celebrate the few things we can”. Huh? Why should it be the “few we can” – doesn’t that show there is something wrong with this picture. Grrrrrr.

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. Local Discoveries – Things Are Out There….

    Reply to Mangochild's comment

  2. Eric on April 3, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

    Suzy, you ask too many questions…just sit back and relax and trust hem to take away all of your problems!

    Yeah, I can’t handle that either…Grow on!

    Reply to Eric's comment

  3. Sherri on April 3, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Yikes. Just plain scary.

    Let me guess. The “safe” foods will probably all be highly-processed and contain insane amounts of subsidized foods like corn, wheat and soy (in the form of things like high fructose corn syrup, not plain corn!)

    Nothing like actually fixing the problem, eh?

    Sherri’s last blog post.. Why local eggs?

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  4. Daphne on April 3, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Hmm something unbelievable posted on April 1st. I would probably make sure it is real first.

    Daphne’s last blog post.. A Death in the Garden

    Reply to Daphne's comment

  5. kristin on April 3, 2009 at 8:38 am

    What a typical example of ridiculous bureaucracy in action.

    kristin’s last blog post.. Story Time

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  6. Sande on April 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

    There are some mighty strange things going on these days! Thanks for posting this. I missed it in the news.

    Sande’s last blog post.. Sunday Silence 2

    Reply to Sande's comment

  7. rachel on April 3, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Before you get too up in arms about it, you might want to check the date of the original post… I believe it was somewhere around the first of April. ;)

    rachel’s last blog post.. Where have I been??

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  8. ChristyACB on April 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

    It was an April Fools joke. Not real.

    ChristyACB’s last blog post.. State of the Garden – 2 April 2009

    Reply to ChristyACB's comment

  9. Naomi on April 3, 2009 at 11:18 am

    April Fool’s people! This, and all of the posts on April 1 were jokes…

    Reply to Naomi's comment

  10. Erin on April 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Sounds like propaganda to me…..And if it was April Fools, well this is something not really light to joke about. Oh Salmonella, Contamination…. hilarious!

    Erin’s last blog post.. Wake up call

    Reply to Erin's comment

    • Susy on April 3, 2009 at 7:56 pm

      I agree, not something to joke about if it is a joke. Particularly from a place that a lot of people go for the most up to date news of food and food legislation. A little unprofessional if it is a joke and it they lose a lot of credibility in my book if that’s what this is.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Maureen on April 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Hear hear Suzy! I went onto the site (yesterday) and it’s still up as a ‘real’ news story….not good if it’s not actually true.

    My first thought on it was that it sounded a lot like something that would happen in CHINA!

    Maureen’s last blog post.. Orange Juice Again!

    Reply to Maureen's comment

  12. Sinfonian on April 7, 2009 at 2:58 am

    I’m all for April Fools jokes, but sorry you got caught up in it. No problem helping to make it “real” and thanks for fixing it. This was probably the best one I saw. Google’s sucked and Farmer’s Almanac was clearly a hoax it was only a bit humous. This was not funny, but it got me!

    Sinfonian’s last blog post.. April 6, 2009

    Reply to Sinfonian's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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