The following op-ed was written by GAP Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt. Versions of this op-ed also appeared in the Xenia Daily Gazette (OH), Bristol Press (CT), New Britain Herald (CT), Herkimer Telegram (NY), Little Falls Times (NY), Union Daily Times (SC), and Wayne Independent (PA).
Food safety is running afoul in Springdale — in more ways than one. First, meat and grain agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey linked to a salmonella outbreak and temporarily shut its turkey processing plant in the Arkansas city in early August. Then, a Tyson Foods driver died after being pinned between two truck trailers outside a Springdale poultry plant.
The death of 50-year-old Merrill Reynolds, who worked for Tyson for nearly three decades, should draw much-needed attention to the critical role of truckers in today's food system. Often overlooked, food safety and security during transport is absolutely critical for keeping America's food supply safe. Consider transportation vulnerabilities like temperature control of meats, or the general sanitation and upkeep of vehicles. One compromised shipment could easily sicken thousands of consumers.
Food transportation also represents an environmental challenge. Every cross-country load of produce spews carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University estimated that about 11 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation.
Many roads pave the way from farm to table. Trucking is by far the most common method of transporting food in the United States. Trucks tote food from a producer to one or more processors, they haul those products to distributors, and then they drive them to supermarkets and other shops, where consumers buy the food and most likely drive it home.