Vince Lombardi famously said: "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." Now there is a study, published in Current Opinion on Food Science, that proves the first part of Lombardi's statement -- "perfection is not attainable" -- in the food and beverage safety space. The study authors conclude there is no such thing as "zero risk," but there is residual risk, small risk, very small risk and even extremely small risk in all food processing.
Many critics of the food and beverage industry ignore the second part of Lombardi's quote -- that food and beverage safety in our country is unquestionably "excellent" -- and insist that it be "perfect." That sentiment underlies the current debate about the presence of heavy metals in baby food. Nobody wants children to be exposed to potentially toxic metals, and there appears to be a consensus that efforts should be undertaken to get residual metal exposure as close to zero as possible. But those efforts cannot ignore the fact that the end game cannot be "zero" or "perfection." Some risk must be tolerated.
Too bad Coach Lombardi isn't still alive to help guide those involved with the production of baby foods through these very important times.