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Reassuring Consumers

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, September 25, 2006

Regardless of what the FDA does, there cannot be a successful outcome to this disaster if consumers don’t feel reassured as to the safety of spinach and all produce products.

Certainly if Good Agricultural Practices need to be revised, they should be revised. But that is very subtle and not likely to move consumer perceptions.

There are two things that can and should be done:

  1. Manure, composted or not, should be banned in commercial agriculture. It is not necessary and is barbaric. Every consumer is repulsed by the idea that their fruits and vegetables could be raised in soil laced with manure. And they don’t feel better because you tell them it is heated up for five days.
  2. Every processing plant should do “nth” bag inspections for E. coli on all lettuce and spinach products. Even if it is every 10,000th bag, the very concept of continuous testing will be enormously reassuring to consumers.

These are real changes to the system which would, without a doubt, reassure consumers and might even make outbreaks less likely.

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