It's no secret that food companies aim to make money. They strive to spend as little as possible and bring in much more than they spend, that's just business. However, it's becoming more and more alarming when the public learns what some companies are doing, and being legally allowed to do to our food just to save money. One of these money-saving tactics is called reconditioning. It's a lawful process allowed by the FDA and it's probably effecting food that's in your cupboard right now.
Reconditioning is the process of turning imperfect, mislabeled, or even contaminated foods into edible and profitable goods.
Some of these practices seem to be harmless and understandable. If a company flops some pasta and the end result is a batch of misshaped macaroni noodles, they may regrind it in to semolina flour and start over.
Another very common procedure deals with ice cream. Apparently chocolate ice cream flavoring is so powerful that it overpowers other flavors. Due to this fact, imperfect batches of other flavors get mixed together and become chocolate ice cream. While I'd like my ice cream to be perfectly pure, the fact that it may contain slightly odd blueberry ice cream doesn't really bug me, it's not unappetizing.
These steps make sense. They reduce waste and save the company money.
The element of reconditioning that is disturbing is when a company is allowed to take an outright contaminated food, re-process it, and put it on the shelf for profit.
This has been done recently with moldy applesauce, salmonella-contaminated flavor enhancers, and insect-infested rice. In the case of the mold and salmonella, the foods were run through a heat process and repackaged. The rice got re-sifted and put on the shelf. The companies filed a reconditioning request with the FDA and kept their losses to a minimum.
As the consumer, I'd like to know if my rice was re-sifted because a family of bugs were residing in it. Or I'd really like to know if the applesauce I buy for my son was full of mold. However, the FDA does not require a label or notification or even a price reduction to shoppers. Obviously it's a money issue, too. We doubt many would buy rice with a sunburst label stating, "Contained bugs last month!"
Officials from the FDA recently stated that "It's no secret that the FDA allows certain levels of expected contaminants to remain in foods, simply because a zero-tolerance standard would be impossible to meet."
If reconditioning and contaminant levels weren't a secret, it sure wasn't being advertised. But why would it be? It would cost money and apparently making our health priority number one isn't good business.