Dr. Richard Raymond graduated from Hastings College and earned his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Afterwards, he spent almost two decades practicing medicine in rural Nebraska. Dr. Raymond then became Nebraska’s top doc, when he was appointed director of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Regulation & Licensure division by Governor Mike Johanns. He managed the state’s health care and environmental issues. He directed a large number of public health programs including disease prevention and health promotion. He developed anti-bioterrorism initiatives and a statewide health care alert system.
So we can safely assume that he has something meaningful to say about food safety. Want more bona fides?
The good doctor was appointed USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety in 2005. He was responsible for overseeing the policies and programs of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and he chaired the U.S. Codex Steering Committee, which provides guidance to U.S. delegations to the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
So Meatingplace.com landed a real heavyweight when they asked him to blog from time-to-time on food safety issues. He’s not a man given to arbitrary rants. When he writes, he’s fond of using facts, and that’s too often a rarity in the usually emotional debate about our food supply.
A recent blog really whipped the rabble into a frenzy. “Just cook it,” he said, was a crock. It’s not a viable solution to killing off E. coli, salmonella or any of those other nasty bugs. The meat industry, indeed the entire food industry, simply must do better.
The responses threatened to bring down Meatingplace’s servers. OK, that might be a little hyperbolic, but the online chatter went on for page after page. About half of the comments agreed with him; a few were grudging, most were solidly behind him. The other half questioned his intellect in the characteristically blunt terms we’ve all come to expect in online commentary. He was taking a controversial position so I think he knew what might be coming.
I contacted Dr. Raymond and asked him to explain himself in greater detail. He was busy ducking the latest round of springtime Midwest storms, heading for the tornado shelters at DFW when we started. We completed the interview when he returned home the next day after a weather enforced overnight stay near the airport.
Q. The discussion about the safety of the food we eat is wrapped up in truths, half truths, myths and science, and personal (the facts be damned) opinions. You proved that with your ‘Just cook it’ blog on Meatingplace.com last week. First, let’s apply a filter to the 3 yards of responses. Filter #1 will give us the rational statements. What were they?