Thursday, October 06, 2011

Are Retailers Waiving Food Safety To Buy Locally?

Are retailers waiving food safety standards so they can buy food locally? Produce industry insider Jim Prevor, the Perishable Pundit, says yes, they very well may be:

The Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name:
The Priority Can Be Safe or The Priority Can Be Local, But It Cannot Be Both
"Yet, we would say it is not shocking. We also would say that whatever the specific cause of this outbreak, the more general cause is the local food movement. More specifically, the willingness of large buyers to waive food safety standards so they can buy regionally."
He says, "An awful lot of these cantaloupes wound up in Wal-Mart," which was peculiar given Wal-Mart's adoption of more stringent food safety standards in 2008. If Wal-Mart wanted to buy a safe cantaloupe, they wouldn't be buying a washed cantaloupe:
"What the California cantaloupe industry found was that one should not wash a cantaloupe. That moisture itself is the enemy of safety. California packers, who were proud of their wash systems, shut them off."
"Jensen Farms washed all its cantaloupes," even though, "the science says don't get them wet."
And the outbreak does appear to be caused by a small producer who distributed locally:


So why did Wal-Mart buy cantaloupes from a small, local producer? Were they setting aside food safety standards in favor of a marketing angle?
"What we do know, though, is that the food media and food industry has been complicit in deceiving consumers into thinking they can have it all. The Wal-Mart buyer, or any commercial buyer, can make a priority of safe or he can make a priority of local. It is a deception to think he can make both his top priority."


Anonymous said...

Yes god knows that anything local is unsafe. That's why I get all my farmed fish from China. The further it has to travel the better it is.

Bix said...

Interesting you bring up aquaculture. I think it's a great way to provide fish ... sustainable, and according to the FAO can alleviate poverty in rural areas. I also like that they can be inserted into an ecosystem, recycling waste and boosting production of associated land crops like rice - via their own waste and their consumption of pests! Paul Greenberg in his book Four Fish had a chapter on that.

Texas Food Handler Certification said...

A lot of outbreaks has been reported this year in US alone. Germany also has listeria outbreaks. Cantaloupes are one of the reasons as findings shows. Wal-Mart and other stores should really have a certain Food Safety training so that consumers will be more relieved.