Churchville, VA (PRWEB) September 30, 2006
Center for Global Food Issues Research Director and blogger Alex Avery voiced concern that both conventional and organic spinach from Natural Selections Foods became contaminated with E. coli in the inaugural post of the new CGFI blog.
Natural Selections Foods has stated the contaminated spinach was contained to its non-organic brands (source: http://www.ebfarm.com/Press/SpinachUpdates/index.aspx), but a lawsuit recently filed (source: http://cbs5.com/business/local_story_270230802.html) in Ohio federal court directly implicates the organic brand of spinach.
Moreover, Dr. David Acheson of the FDA confirmed on Friday (Sept 29) that “several victims have named organic brands” when asked what spinach they have eaten prior to their illness. Yet he then stated that the FDA has “neither ruled organic products out nor ruled organic in.”
Kevin Reilly, deputy director of prevention services for the California Department of Health Services, reports to CGFI blog that as of Wednesday, September 27, “10 to 12 percent of victims have told the FDA and CDHS that they were sickened by organic spinach products. So far, the only bags provided by victims that have tested positive for the strain of E. coli in this outbreak have been Dole brand products.” But Mr. Reilly went on to say that in 18 past outbreak investigations, finding products or bags that tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 was by far the exception, rather than the rule, so this in no way clears Natural Selections’ organic brands.
“This development raises a number of important questions,” blogs Avery.
“First, is the FDA only ‘ruling in’ products where a package has tested positive for E. coli O157:H7? If that is the case, they are likely to miss the majority of contaminated products.”
“Second, the Natural Selections Foods plant operates two separate processing lines – one just for conventional products and one for organic and conventional products. Was there cross contamination within the processing line, or could it be a problem in the fields? Also, if the problem is improper manure fertilizer management or other failure to follow best practices, was it in just one field, or several? Finally, was the non-organic “Dole baby spinach” that was found to be contaminated growing using organic practices or conventional? Was the spinach field in transition to become fully organic, thus using organic practices but being sold as non-organic?”
“We await answers and clarifications as the investigation continues,” blogs Avery “but we urge the regulators to release as much information as soon as possible so that consumers can be assured that all key aspects of farming practices are been examined and explored.” Read the entire blog post from Avery at http://www.cgfi.org/wordpress/2006/09/28/bad-organic-day-gets-worse-organic-brand-directly-implicated-in-e-coli-outbreak/.
Sparked by the success of the dairy focused milkismilk.com blog, the new CGFI blog will cover a wide range of agricultural issues with posts from Dennis and Alex Avery. The blog can be found at http://www.cgfi.org/wordpress/.
The Center for Global Food Issues is a project of the Hudson Institute, a tax-exempt non-profit public policy organization, providing factual, science-based information on important food and farming issues.
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