Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Almost like it never happened

I happened upon a press release from Menu Foods Income Fund which stated that in 2009 they showed a net income increase of $20.5 million, making it the third most profitable year since the company went public in 2002.

Well, how ducky for them. A mere year after reaching a $24 million settlement with the U.S. District Court of the District of New Jersey for the role Menu Foods played in manufacturing and distributing pet food that, by the most conservative of estimates, killed over 4,000 dogs and cats in 2007, they're now triumphantly touting their gains. I guess the wheels of commerce continue to turn.

And why wouldn't they? Just a handful of years have passed since the recall, yet for so many pet owners life went back to normal. They continue to grab the handiest bag of food that sits on the shelf (bonus points if it's on sale) and feed treats that are manufactured in China, of which there are so many that trying to go to your average big box store for meat-based treats could well turn into an afternoon of label reading, climaxing in either the rationalization that what's there must be safe because, well, it's there, or walking out empty-handed, having found nothing that satisfies their desire for safety while simultaneously alleviating their pet's junk food habit.

I don't even know why I'm surprised. In a world where companies openly sell ground beef containing ammonia to school lunch programs and fast food companies (not to mention grocery stores) and people continue to line up around the edges of the local drive-thru for their $1 menu meal, it should be obvious that food safety is not uppermost in the minds of most. Not for ourselves and our children, most certainly not for our pets.

Companies like Menu Foods count on our special form of short-term memory, our willingness to get back to "normal" as soon as possible, our horror over unintentionally potentially poisoning our four-legged friends slowly sliding into impatience that we might have to drive further, read more, pay more for that which infuses every cell of our companion animal's being with energy and life and health. They count on us to settle back into our mantra of fast-cheap-and-easy, all the while hoping that the food safety dice game doesn't come with snake eyes during our roll.

Judging from their latest earnings statement, it looks like the house won again.

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