Thursday, December 7, 2006

E.Coli, Produce, and the FDA

Article in the New York Times -- Green Onions Identified as Source of E. Coli Cases, by Andrew Martin and Bruce Lambert.  Given the E.coli infections earlier this year related to spinach, we might expect growing calls for reforming FDA oversight of produce.  The New York Times article notes:

“I think we are really at a tipping point for consumer confidence with fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, the group’s director of food safety. She noted that the F.D.A.’s guidelines for safe farming practices were voluntary and that the number of inspectors had been pared by budget cuts.

The F.D.A. regulates the produce and seafood industries, while the Department of Agriculture oversees poultry and meat production.

“We are doing a number of things to address food-borne outbreaks and recognize that the system is not perfect,” said an F.D.A. spokeswoman, Julie Zawisza. “But fresh produce does carry risks, and we are committed to finding effective ways to prevent and reduce incidents and have made good progress using available resources in a more targeted and strategic way.”

For additional coverage, see the L.A. Times article, Outbreak triggers calls for tougher produce guidelines, by Jerry Hirsch and Ellen Barry.


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