Food safety has been under increased scrutiny following this year's massive salmonella outbreak involving peanut products. One area of particular concern is frozen foods, and many manufacturers say they are unable to guarantee the safety of their products.
According to experts, as the supply chain for ingredients in processed foods becomes more complex, the danger to consumers increases. Almost every part of the foods, including flour and spices, is a potential carrier of pathogens, and some companies don't even know who is supplying their ingredients. Therefore, manufacturers can't be sure if their product has been screened for safety. This is an especially serious problem with frozen foods because customers buy them for their convenience and may assume that cooking methods affect only taste and not safety.
A number of major brands, including Nestle, Swanson, Hungry-Man, and ConAgra, whose pot pies were responsible for an estimated 15,000 salmonella illnesses in 2007, admit that they cannot ensure the safety of their food and have transferred the burden of responsibility to consumers. Federal officials have encouraged companies to improve cooking instructions on their foods, but some manufacturers don't list any instructions and others only list brief guidelines in small print on the side of packaging.