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Perishable Pundit
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Produce Business

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American Food & Ag Exporter

Cheese Connoisseur

Has Wal-Mart’s Desire To Buy
Cheaper Changed Its Values?

We’ve been running a stream of pieces wrestling with the procurement transformation going on at Wal-Mart. We started out addressing the change from DC assignments to dollar-value assignments, along with the growth of “opportunity buys” in our piece Wal-Mart Continues To Change Its Buying Practices.

We then had a lengthy discussion with Ron McCormick, Vice President/Director of Produce and Floral, who expanded on our article and explained Wal-Mart’s new distinction between strategic and tactical vendors. We entitled that article Ron McCormick Of Wal-Mart Elaborates On Its Procurement Reorganization.

Then a sell-side player sent us a note, and we discussed his perspective in an article entitled Wal-Mart’s Changing Treatment Of Suppliers. This led to a lot of phone conversations with vendors, which resulted in Calls On Wal-Mart Point To More Vendor Negativity. This led to lots of industry discussion which compelled us to write ‘Anyone But Wal-Mart’.

Now we have received another letter from a vendor with first-hand experience with Wal-Mart, and he raises a crucial issue:

I was the Wal-Mart account manager for a west coast based “vendor-partner” for several years and ending just recently. One of my co-workers made the observation in 2001 that Wal-Mart was the 800-lb gorilla that one day would wake up. Wal-Mart has gone from the customer that everyone wanted because they were “partners” to the customer everyone HAS to deal with.

One observation recently made in another publication was that vendors who complain about Wal-Mart probably aren’t doing a good job — Baloney! Some vendors have issues but most work their rear ends off for a pat on the head like a puppy followed by, “what are you doing for me today?”

The new “dollar value” commitment agreement (vs. DC assignment) Wal-Mart is honoring sounds fine until you realize that the bulk of Wal-Mart’s loyalty surfaces when supplies are short, which is when production costs vendors more to harvest and ship each unit. Wal-Mart usually then doesn’t proportionally increase their retail price point, thus their demand swells at absolutely the wrong time for a shipper.

This type of occurrence previously was tolerated by vendor/PARTNERS because the shipper knew through the Wal-Mart partnership agreement that when a glut of supply hit, lowering overall cost per unit, Wal-Mart would still have a dedicated amount of units at the contract price going into the Wal-Mart system to offset the volume increases and thus outside opportunity losses from the tight supply period.

Now, with Wal-Mart putting an emphasis on outside opportunity purchases, loyal vendors (please note: no longer partners) either find out after the fact that their DC’s have been hit by cheap product (virtually eliminating demand for a week) or they at best get the opportunity to under bid their own contract to keep their volume moving.

Does this make for unhappy shippers? Yes.

Wal-Mart does have an open door policy for grievances but, take it from someone who walked through that door… exiting is not as easy or as pleasant as they make it sound. I actually did it twice as I was a slow learner, thus I am now a former Wal-Mart account manager. Not per internal Wal-Mart requests (tone of voice or threats of diminished business), of course, by ‘my own choice’ to amend my career path.

Not being mentioned among almost any of these discussions is the question of food safety and traceability. Wal-Mart has very stringent and regulated compliance requirements for existing vendors. The least of which was forcing the RPC footprint into the system and now pressing on bio-testing and RFID. Virtually none of the ‘opportunity buys’ contemplated this summer will meet the minimum expectations placed on regular vendors on a daily basis.

Wal-Mart obviously won’t acknowledge this fact, but it is still the reality of this new policy, which costs the loyal vendor and rewards the opportunistic broker.

Yes, the 800-lb gorilla has woken up and is throwing its weight around.

It strikes us that there are several separate issues here:

  1. The DC assignment vs. dollar-value assignment and its geographical impact.

    If you are Sunkist or a California grape grower, geography really doesn’t matter. Wal-Mart wanting you to supply 10 trailers a week to one DC or a trailer a week to 10 different DCs is a minor trucking issue. In fact, since you are growing the product one place, if this year they want you to supply a DC in Florida and next year a DC in Arizona and the following year one in New England, it all makes no difference.

    But if you grow cantaloupes or tomatoes or greenhouse product, it makes all the difference in the world whether you buy a farm or a repacking facility or build a ripening room or greenhouse in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Canada or California.

    In his interview with us, Ron was clear that he didn’t want anyone to do anything to serve Wal-Mart unless Wal-Mart asked for it in writing. Morally and from a liability standpoint, that position may get Wal-Mart off the hook but it also avoids reality. Every business has to project where its future business will come from. By untethering procurement from geography, companies have to speculate more on where their future business will be. This is likely to lead to inefficiencies and surplus capacity.
  2. The DC assignment vs. dollar-value assignment and its flow of business impact.

    The key question for a vendor in the produce industry is not “how much business will I get,” but, rather, “when will I get the business?” Partly this is the nature of agriculture — how can a grower know when to plant if he doesn’t know when he needs to harvest? How can a vendor know when to contract for product if he doesn’t know when he will need to sell it?

    Partly this is the nature of business. If business is steady and predictable, facilities and staff can be utilized to full capacity. If one has to be staffed and equipped to sell tremendous peaks of business, one will have underutilized staff and capacity that will add costs to the system.

    And, partly, this has to do with the nature of commodity pricing. All commodities fluctuate in price. A “contract” that says someone will buy X amount but doesn’t give a time commitment is often worse than no contract at all. It is basically not so much a procurement contract as a call option, giving the buyer the right to buy up to that quantity whenever the market is favorable for the buyer to do so.
  3. Wal-Mart’s retail price has an enormous impact on consumer demand.

    As a “partner,” one would expect Wal-Mart to handle pricing to manage demand in line with market conditions. But, as our letter-writer explains: “…the bulk of Wal-Mart’s loyalty surfaces when supplies are short, which is when production costs vendors more to harvest and ship each unit. Wal-Mart usually then doesn’t proportionally increase their retail price point thus their demand swells at absolutely the wrong time for a shipper.”
  4. Wal-Mart now is cutting off volume for contract vendors when markets are cheap, saving its “contract” purchases for when they are dear. In the meantime, they offer the same contract vendors — who have unutilized dollars in their dollar commitment — to underbid their own contract: “…with Wal-Mart putting an emphasis on outside opportunity purchases, loyal vendors (please note: no longer partners) either find out after the fact that their DC’s have been hit by cheap product (virtually eliminating demand for a week) or they at best get the opportunity to under bid their own contract to keep their volume moving.”
  5. Wal-Mart’s vaunted grievance procedures don’t work except in the context of a committed relationship. If one’s volume is dependent on a human being making a decision about whether to do “opportunity buys” in this category, then elevating a dispute to a superior is not likely to promote long-term business. Besides, the issue is the new Wal-Mart contract without weekly purchase commitments — any violation is of sotto voce assurances, not typically the contract. We are told, however, of vendors being accused of not fulfilling their contracts to Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart kept postponing purchases and thus the vendor never met its volume commitment.
  6. Perhaps the most interesting and astute insight in the letter is this paragraph:

    Not being mentioned among almost any of these discussions is the question of food safety and traceability. Wal-Mart has very stringent and regulated compliance requirements for existing vendors. The least of which was forcing the RPC footprint into the system and now pressing on bio-testing and RFID. Virtually none of the ‘opportunity buys’ contemplated this summer will meet the minimum expectations placed on regular vendors on a daily basis.

    Wal-Mart obviously won’t acknowledge this fact, but it is still the reality of this new policy which costs the loyal vendor and rewards the opportunistic broker.

In comparing prices from its contracted vendors with contracted quantities to “opportunity buys,” Wal-Mart is comparing apples and oranges. Simply getting a Wal-Mart vendor number is not enough. If Wal-Mart is going to go to vendors and say we want you to do RFID, but then buy from cheaper folks not doing RFID, that will quickly teach vendors not to listen to Wal-Mart.

And what about food safety? These “opportunity buys” are by definition from companies less aligned to Wal-Mart than its contracted vendors. Sometimes, the “opportunity buys” are so non-aligned they don’t have a vendor number, and Wal-Mart asks its strategic vendors to buy the product and resell it for a small brokerage.

But how then can Wal-Mart state unequivocally that it is convinced this product is safe? Did Wal-Mart inspect the fields? Did Wal-Mart audit the packing house? Wal-Mart hasn’t traced this product, which for all its executives know could have taken a side trip to the 7th Street Market.

The unfairness of Wal-Mart having one set of standards for its regular vendors and then another for “opportunity buys” is manifest. Maybe these vendors wouldn’t have so much cheap product to get rid of if they had to meet Wal-Mart’s high standards?

Everything up to this point has been a matter of buyer-seller dealings. Yet, if Wal-Mart is prepared to not insist on identical food safety and traceability standards in order to take advantage of the opportunity to buy cheap product, Wal-Mart may be putting the reputation of the produce industry at large at risk.

Following the departure of Bob DiPiazza from Sam’s Club and Bruce Peterson from Wal-Mart, a woman named Joan Menke-Schaenzer, who had been Vice-President of Quality Assurance, also left Wal-Mart. Joan is well-recognized in food safety. Under Joan’s direction, Wal-Mart was the only retail founder of the Food Safety Leadership Council, which is the group that was pushing the National Restaurant Association to adopt its own produce safety standards.

Joan took a position at ConAgra. How does the world’s largest retailer lose a food safety superstar — to one of its own suppliers no less — in the midst of the biggest food safety concern ever?

During the Taco Bell outbreak, we wrote that the core of the problem was the New Meaning Of A Value Meal: Cultural Change Needed To Factor In Food Safety. We explained that Taco Bell’s focus on its getting costs low enough to sell items on its value meal menu was a cultural inhibition to proper food safety.

As we’ve read about problems in food safety well beyond produce — problems with peanut butter and dog food, problems in China, etc. — we wonder if Wal-Mart’s culture didn’t make Joan Menke-Schaenzer feel like the unheeded conscience of the company?

Suppose she said, “Let’s not buy any food from China, the systems there aren’t really set up yet.” Or what if she said, “Let’s only buy produce on a contract basis from people we’ve had lots of time to send teams to check out and let us only buy product from their dedicated production.”

Would these inputs be valued and respected? Or would she be chastised as making it more difficult to offer “always low prices”?

Maybe it is just coincidence and she left for other reasons, but a person in that position has the opportunity to change the food safety system of the world. We wouldn’t be shocked if she left because the drive to reduce costs was, culturally, becoming more important than the drive for food safety.

Maybe the story behind the story of the changes in Wal-Mart’s procurement model for produce is that the drive to buy cheaper has surpassed all other values.

That would be a problem for the produce industry…and the world.

Ocean Spray Case Delves Into
Robinson-Patman And PACA Violations

Our coverage of the dispute between Jim & Theresa Nolan and The Nolan Network with Ocean Spray began with an article in Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, entitled Special Report: Ocean Spray Sued By Longtime Associates. We followed that up with our first piece in the Pundit, which we called Ocean Spray Trial Will Shed Light On Business Practices. We then asked Will Retailers Wait For A Trial To Act On Ocean Spray Controversy?

There is not much controversy over the fact that Ocean Spray offered lower prices to Costco and HEB than it did to other warehouse clubs and supermarkets. Our point has been, forget the legalities, every supermarket and club store is going to be lined up at Ocean Spray’s door demanding recompense.

One of the main legal issues though is whether, in fact, Ocean Spray’s offering of a lower price to Costco than it did to Sam’s, BJs or other clubs was a violation of the Robinson-Patman Act. A law that, generally speaking, requires that vendors offer identical prices to those in an identical class of trade.

Ocean Spray defends itself on the basis that its price to Costco was a response to a price from Northland. This would, apparently, be legal under Robinson-Patman.

Sharlene Taylor, who was the cranberry buyer for Costco dealing with Ocean Spray, gave a deposition for the case. You can read excerpts from it right here.

The Pundit is neither judge nor jury here, but we have a Dickens of a time reading Ms. Taylor’s deposition and getting from it that Ocean Spray’s pricing was “in response” to any offer from Northland.

First, Ms. Taylor explains that whatever it was Northland was presenting, Costco had no interest in it:

Question: “…What, if anything, can you recall about your discussions with Northland with regard to the three-pound pack?”

Answer: They had created this pack. They had given me a specific price that was, my understanding, somewhat negotiable; but the pack that they had created essentially turned out to be something that, after showing it off to my superiors, we were not interested in pursuing”

This itself seems to weaken Ocean Spray’s argument. If there was no other item on the table, how could Ocean Spray’s price be a response? Besides, Ms. Taylor is later asked specifically about the issue of Ocean Spray responding to a Northland offer:

Question: Do you have any recollection of whether the price with Ocean Spray was a negotiated based on the offer from Northland?….

Answer: No, it was not based on the offer from Northland that I recall.

This seems pretty much as clear as one can get in these complicated cases. We read all these depositions and come away saying that Ocean Spray wanted the business, Costco wanted a good price and Northland doesn’t seem to us to even enter into the matter.

A lot of the lawsuit has to do with Robinson-Patman and similar issues on the retail side. We wonder about violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and other laws protecting growers.

The question is how did Ocean Spray, as a cooperative, pay its growers? And there are two issues:

First, how was business assigned between growers? If Sam’s Club is paying $25 and Costco is paying $21 for the same thing — how was it decided who got the cheap Costco order and who got the rich Sam’s Club order — and wouldn’t this allocation affect grower returns?

The complaint also contains an allegation that when C&S, as the buyer for BJs, objected and demanded compensation, C&S was told to claim bad quality on a few loads.

If this happened, wouldn’t it have impacted the returns of the growers who supplied this falsely labeled “poor quality” fruit?

Shouldn’t the USDA be investigating this matter?

Caplan Scholarship Program Helps
Family Businesses Learn Public Policy

There are so many opportunities available for young people to rise in today’s produce industry if you know where to look.

  • Jay and Ruthie Pack have generously supported the Pack Family/PMA Career Pathways Fund to bring a select group of college students and faculty advisors to PMA’s annual convention and exhibition.
  • The Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation honors Joe Nucci and brings students and faculty to PMA’s Foodservice Conference & Expo in Monterey, CA.
  • United has its annual Leadership Class, and now we get a reminder that it is time to apply for the Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship, which brings representatives of family businesses to attend United’s Washington Public Policy Conference:

Scholarships Give Family Businesses Opportunity
to Get Involved, Make Their Voices Heard

Washington, D.C. — United Fresh Produce Association announced today that it is now accepting applications for the 2007 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program. The Program awards up to four scholarships for employees of United Fresh member, family-owned businesses, to attend United Fresh’s Washington Public Policy Conference (WPPC).

The four scholarships recipients are selected by an advisory committee and receive complimentary airfare, hotel, and registration to attend the conference, which will be held September 12-14, 2007 at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel. This annual conference brings together hundreds of produce leaders from all sectors of the industry to interact personally and share ideas with Administration officials, congressional leaders, and industry colleagues.

“Attending the Washington Public Policy Conference was truly an amazing experience that opened my eyes to a whole new element of the produce industry!” said Kari Valdés, Mills Family Farms, 2006 scholarship recipient.“As a food safety professional, I was unsure how relevant my experiences would be in Washington, but I quickly found out that this is a conference for the entire produce industry. I left Washington with a whole new perspective about the importance of being involved at all levels. This is definitely a conference that I will continue to attend."

The 2007 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda’s, Inc. by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins; it is administered through the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation. The goal of the program is to increase family business’ involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.

“This program is a superb opportunity for members of family businesses to better understand how decisions made in Washington can affect their business,” said Victoria Kuhns, United Fresh’s senior vice president of member services, foundation.“With 300 industry peers all coming together to promote the produce industry, this scholarship program is a great way to get your feet wet in the political scene and understand how you can have an impact.”

To apply for a Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship, participants must complete an application form and briefly write why they want to attend the WPPC and what they hope to gain from the experience. The application can be downloaded from United Fresh’s website and must be received by July 27, 2007.

When Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins endowed this scholarship, they wanted to honor their mother who both founded a family business and recognized early-on the importance of having a voice in Washington, D.C.

It is a great idea. This program can help family businesses, who might not be of a scale where they thought government relations was an important item, to get involved.

A small wholesaler, a small farmer — the type of people who wouldn’t normally spend money on this kind of thing, can get the chance to attend WPPC to get exposure to these issues.

The application process is open and as long as you work with a family business and the business is a United member, you qualify. You don’t even have to be a member of the owning family.

The conference is really a fantastic event. If you haven’t walked the halls of Congress, met regulators and legislators, it is well worth the time to see the produce industry march on Washington. And with this scholarship program, you can do it for free.

We all get so caught up in our day-to-day business, it is good to detach sometimes and see the big picture, which includes how government affects the trade and your business.

And you never know where a little involvement will take you. Frieda started a family business and became famous for air freighting kiwifruit from New Zealand to America. In the fullness of the time, the business grew to provide the kind of livelihood where her daughters could endow such a scholarship program.

By the way, that picture of Karen Caplan with Alan Greenspan, the longtime Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, is a goof with a cardboard cutout. Karen did, however, just recently complete her term as a Director, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Los Angeles Branch. During her term she was responsible for providing the Federal Reserve with input on what was really happening to the economy. She shared one of those reports with Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, and you can read it here.

Maybe you too will be called upon to help our country by working with the very highest levels of government. A great place to start is by applying for the Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship to attend United’s Washington Public Policy Conference. Download the application right here.

By the way, if you want to know a little more about Frieda, you can read an interview PRODUCE BUSINESS conducted with her 20 years ago. To this day, she is the only industry member to get a solo gig on the cover of PRODUCE BUSINESS. Read her thoughts here.

Pesticides Keep Pestering Us

Just when we thought that everybody was focused on pathogens on produce, it turns out that pesticides are creeping back into the public eye. We ran a piece entitled pesticide Spraying Gets More Attention that was quickly followed by Pundit’s Mailbag — Green Acres Is The Place To Be?!? — both focused around the intersection of pesticide use and people, not so much on the issue of pesticides on the produce.

In Europe, however, the pesticide issue is playing out differently. In the May 2007 issue of Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, Marc DeNaeyer, Managing Partner, TROFI in The Netherlands and Pundit contributor here, here, here and here, wrote a guest column filling in for longtime columnist Robert Zwartkruis while he is recuperating. Here is what Marc told us:

Then there is the specific issue of Maximum Residue Limits (MRL), which Greenpeace has made top-of-mind for every operator in Europe. Greenpeace regularly takes samples off the shelves and tests them for residue levels. It has communicated the results aggressively and directly to the consumers, putting the German retailers on the bench of the accused. This in turn has had a major effect: German retailers — in particular German discounters (Aldi, Lidl) — - have taken drastic actions to avoid future criticism. What until recently was perceived the “dumping ground” of Europe now has arguably the strictest food safety standards worldwide!

Non-produce crises, such as mad cow’s disease, swine fever, dioxin chicken and so on, initially led the European Union during the ‘90s to implement stricter and mandatory food safety and hygiene codes. This was complemented by stricter codes from the retailers. Effectively, all fresh produce inside the European Union — imported or locally grown — is now by law fully traceable upwards and downwards and no retailer will take any more fruit that is not EurepGAP certified, will no longer use service providers that are not BRC (widely covered recently by the Perishable Pundit) or IFS certified.

So we are all perfectly accredited, but as certain as death follows life, there is no 100 percent guarantee of safe food. All you need is a grower using other pesticides than he records in his spray diary (or climate simply forces him to save the crop and thus residue levels upon arrival exceed MRLs); all you need is contamination of an adjacent field with a different crop on it and so on.

Produce is as safe as it has ever been, but Greenpeace’s actions have highlighted that the E.U. regulations are far from harmonized. That means residue limits vary from one member state to another, and as long as the European Union has not harmonized the MRL, each member state must enforce its own laws: So if you want to market produce inside the European Union, you’d have to have it tested for every single market. That is tantamount to taking your driving exam 27 times…

Furthermore, there is still room for discussion, whether the MRLs are set conservatively or not. The European Union believes an excess MRL poses no health risk. Greenpeace warns that a cocktail of various pesticides can pose a risk even if all individual pesticides are within limits. The only known fact today is no one has died due to pesticides residue.

The argument can be made either way these days and with all the “spin” and near hysteria and fearmongering, we are still far from a level-headed debate. For the moment, there is only one party speaking out, and it is not the fresh produce industry!

German discounters are now arbitrarily enforcing their own MRLs, which are set at anywhere between 33 percent and 50 percent of the MRL. Today we must have each lot tested for 500 active ingredients — at a cost of €200 per test — and only then does a discounter decide if it buys or not. Remember the days we just fought over price?

This has changed the buying dynamics tremendously, and the effects will be strategically interesting at the very least. Does an operator now pursue a fully integrated supply chain on one hand and is a discounter willing to hand over its strength of flexible spot buying on the other? The answer will likely be that the solutions will be different for each operator and retailer. What will happen is that no longer just U.K. buyers, but now all E.U. buyers, will enforce much stricter codes in the global quest for fresh produce.

For all of you readers who wonder whether 1/3 of the MRL is at all possible, the answer is a simple: YES. Growers from around the world have proven this for months. The problem only arises when, prior or during harvest, products need to be sprayed due to rain, and then one can forget about meeting the target.

As a result, a discounter today in Germany will then switch into a different origin, a different variety or de-list the product altogether. The rules of the game have once again changed: This is EU-27 in ’07. Welcome!

Right now in the U.S. everyone is focused on food safety in the sense of looking for E. coli 0157:H7, Salmonella and so forth. Yet, even if these issues are “settled” one day, it seems reasonable to believe that a public, now more highly sensitized to issues regarding food safety, will be open to the claims of organizations such as Greenpeace.

We’ve noted here at the Pundit that, despite the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative, British chains have been much more aggressive than American chains in trying to dictate food safety standards.

Marc sees this spreading to German discounters and on to the rest of the Continent.

Yet many European retailers — Delhaize, Ahold, Aldi, Tengelmann, now Tesco — have footholds in the U.S. Is it reasonable to think they will refrain from enforcing similar standards in America? If these European retailers do try to import European standards to the U.S., won’t American chains feel the need to respond?

In which case is Marc simply describing the state of the European Union in 2007 or is he describing the future we will be wrestling with in America in 2009?

Prepare For Perclorate Problems

There are always issues bubbling just below the surface, not really causing a problem, but capable of doing so at any time. Our piece perchlorate Issue Is Percolating dealt with the risks for the industry related to perchlorate. Now the FDA has issued preliminary estimates of perchlorate dietary exposure and updated its backgrounder on perchlorate. It includes this section on produce:

Has FDA found perchlorate in produce (fruits and vegetables)?

Yes. Among 137 lettuce samples tested, FDA found perchlorate levels ranging from levels below the limit of detection to 71.6 ppb, with a mean of 8.06 ppb, in iceberg lettuce; levels of 1.00 to 27.4 ppb, with a mean of 10.6 ppb, in green leaf lettuce; levels below the limit of detection to 52.0 ppb, with a mean of 11.2 ppb, in red leaf lettuce; and levels below the limit of detection to 129 ppb, with a mean of 11.8 ppb, in romaine lettuce.

FDA also found perchlorate levels ranging from levels below the limit of detection to 195 ppb, with a mean of 13.7 ppb, in 73 tomato samples; levels below the limit of detection to 111 ppb, with a mean of 15.8 ppb, in 59 carrot samples; levels of 5.94 to 927 ppb, with a mean of 115 ppb, in 36 spinach samples; and levels of 0.52 to 718 ppb, with a mean of 28.6 ppb, in 48 cantaloupe samples. Results of perchlorate levels ranging from levels below the limit of detection to 238 ppb in 14 other types of fruit and vegetable samples are available on FDA’s website (See “2004-2005 Exploratory Survey Data on Perchlorate in Food”).

Domestic produce samples were collected at the grower or packing shed, while fruit juice and import samples were collected at retail establishments. For sample analysis, only the edible portion of fruit and vegetable samples were used to determine perchlorate levels. In addition, outermost leaves of each lettuce head were removed, similar to consumer handling prior to consumption, while the entire bunch of spinach was used to determine perchlorate levels.

FDA notes that, although a few samples of certain fruits and vegetables (e.g., spinach, carrot, tomatoes, and cantaloupe) contained relatively high perchlorate levels, these levels do not suggest a public health significance based on exposure estimates … that indicate that perchlorate intakes from consumption of these foods are below the RfD of 0.7 µg/kg bw/day recommended by NAS and adopted by EPA. Nevertheless, FDA plans to conduct additional research to identify potential sources of perchlorate contamination from locations where samples with relatively high perchlorate levels were grown. This research may provide the opportunity to learn and assess the route of perchlorate contamination in foods. This and other research could be used to develop practices for growers to reduce contamination, if needed

Although the FDA points out that “these levels do not suggest a public health significance,” it is not prepared to issue an all clear. The FDA explains that it “…plans to conduct additional research…This and other research could be used to develop practices for growers to reduce contamination, if needed.”

So there is no problem but there could be in the future so the FDA wants to be prepared. So should we all.

Only Way To Make A Bellini:
Start With White Flesh Peach

White peach sales are destined to boom now that Harry Cipriani has reopened in Manhattan’s well-known Sherry-Netherland Hotel after a two-year hiatus.

The original Cipriani, Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, was famed as the haunt of Ernest Hemingway, Peggy Guggenheim, the Aga Khan and other notables. It was also the birthplace, in 1949 of the Bellini:

The Bellini was first invented in 1948 at Harry’s Bar in Venice Italy. Giuseppe Cipriani was the head bartender at the time, and had a strong fondness for the Italian White Peaches. He worked long and hard trying to develop a perfect cocktail which would use them as a base, then he tried the simple combination of pureed white peaches and prosecco (Italian Sparkling Wine), and he knew he had something.

While many recipes exist for the Bellini, some of which might include Peach Schnapps or other additives attempting to provide the essence of peach to this drink, the only true way to make it is with white peach puree. Using fresh, ripe, and peeled white peaches, puree them to a very smooth consistency.

All white flesh peaches are good. But these are out of this world.

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