The article tells the whole story.


(Marshall, MN) The supermarket freezer cabinet was jam-packed with half-gallons of Schwan's... the very same company whose salmonella tainted ice cream had supposedly been responsible for confirmed food poisoning in 16 states and suspected cases in another twenty. They were there, lined up in neat rows... not a space between them... even a few of my favorite flavors, and completely undisturbed.

Actually, that was the first thing I noticed. The pile was totally untouched. While all the surrounding brands proudly presented holes in their displays... empty spaces where customers had obviously felt unconcerned about removing boxes, the Schwan's was undisturbed, a mighty, impenetrable brick wall of ice cream boxes. Shoppers moved around the case, came near the product... rummaged to the right... sought flavors on the left, but no one wanted to open the newly cleaned glass door behind which rested the Schwan's. So I did. I opened the cabinet, selected two at random, and put them in my cart. That's when I noticed everyone staring.

Mind you, no one said a word. Mid-westerners are too polite for that, but their eyes followed and only a few broke their startled expressions to return my smile. I don't think my behavior was at all strange.

A few years ago, a DC-10 jumbo jet literally dropped an engine in Chicago and crashed. I remember it well. In those days, international travel was a regular habit of mine and airplane safety was somewhat of an obsession. The FAA grounded all the DC-10s and started inspecting. They found a flaw and ordered the planes fixed and for the next two years, my first choice was always a DC-10.

Why not? These were the best inspected planes in America. Before every one left the ground, hoards of experts examined them... and again when they landed. Literally hundreds of highly trained people were watching out for my safety. I felt very secure on those airplanes.

Those were also the days when terrorists were still hijacking airplanes. My business took me often to the Middle East and I always flew on the airline that had been a recent victim of a hijacking. Once time I went to Israel with TWA while another of their planes was being held hostage at Beirut airport. When my flight stopped in Paris, the craft was instantly surrounded by dozen of French police... almost as many as had protected the plane in New York. Even the most demented terrorist mind wouldn't have messed with those boys.

I watched through the window as the officers inspected every bag, box and parcel that was brought on-board. I watched them and they watched the mechanics, the delivery people, and even the poor, frightened guy who cleaned the pilot's windshield. The flight to Tel Aviv was peaceful.

I no longer travel the world. Today, rural Minnesota and the Dakotas are my business beat, so my fear of international terrorism, or faulty jumbo jets, is far less personal. But I did have six half gallons of Schwan's in my freezer when the television guy screamed the news about tainted ice cream. I returned them unopened and got my refund, but it's nice to have a couple back.

It's even nicer to know that federal, state, county and city food inspectors, joined by every expert the company could hire, are wandering that factory making sure that the stuff I bought won't make me sick. I'll sleep well after my usual late-night bowl of ice cream. I might even dream about Paris.

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