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300 Million Hungry Mouths To Feed

Sometime Tuesday, it is believed that the 300-millionth American was born — or perhaps, immigrated, legally or illegally. The almost complete silence on that matter illustrates how America’s traditional sense of optimism about the future has been replaced by uncertainty.

In 1967, the population broke 200 million, and it was a major national event. President Lyndon Johnson gave a speech on the theme of American “greatness” and the audience interrupted it to burst into applause at the precise moment that a giant “census clock” that had been erected in the U.S. Department of Commerce hit the milestone. Life magazine sent teams of photographers across the country to capture the birth of the 200-millionth American — a boy in Atlanta was the chosen one.

This year there was…nothing.

In 1967, it was clear that a growing population was a hallmark of growing prosperity and growing power. Fertility and robustness went hand in hand. Population growth created a youthful, progressive society that would do great things. It had just been in 1964 that the New York World’s Fair had opened, and it seemed perfectly appropriate when Walt Disney designed for General Electric the GE Carousel of Progress with its famous theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”:

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of ev’ryday
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow’s just a dream away

Man has a dream and that’s the start
He follows his dream with mind and heart
And when it becomes a reality
It’s a dream come true for you and me

So there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of ev’ryday
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
Just a dream away

I was a little boy when my parents took me to that World’s Fair, and I still remember the infectious optimism of that song and the way the attraction portrayed American history as a story of technological progress bound to continue.

Even then, there were worriers about over-population but, for the most part, Americans, like Walt Disney, were optimists and felt that although people might consume resources, they had brains and hands as well as mouths and that this great country could overcome any obstacle.

There are many reasons for the silence this year. Immigration is a hot button issue, and we’ve dealt with it here, here and here.

After a burst of immigration at the turn of the century, the U.S. had placed tight limits on immigration in the early 1920’s. So by the early 1960s, there had been a 40-year process of consolidation. Today we are in the throes of dealing with a wave that will change America as surely as the immigrant wave at the turn of the century changed America. So population growth is a sore point.

But, beyond that, America in the 1960’s was still a society basking in its victory in World War II. With traditional economic rivals decimated, America bestrode the world stage in a way no power ever quite had.

We had our problems, of course: The Cold War was on, the Korean War had terminated in a stalemate, Vietnam had become an issue, race relations and civil rights were enormous domestic challenges.

Yet there was a national self-confidence that we would collectively deal with these problems. That our capabilities were endless. We were the nation that would and could “pay any price, bear any burden”, and before the decade was out we would have a man walk on the moon — as if to say to ourselves and the world, nothing is if impossible.

Today we are richer, more powerful, more technologically advanced than in 1967, but we are more afraid as well. The problems we face, such as terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, do not seem amenable to being fixed regardless of our technology.

When I was a baby, my mother thought nothing of leaving me in a carriage outside as she ran into a store. And when she was a girl, our country was poorer still, but her family thought nothing of putting her alone on a Subway from Brooklyn to be met in Manhattan by her grandfather.

Today both actions would be considered abandonment and you could get arrested. You wouldn’t want to do it anyway because maybe some crazy person will come kidnap your child.

It is the unsettling nature of reality today that leads to a boom in “comfort food” so people can remember a time when they felt safe. Even much of the artisanal food movement, Slow Food and early organic movement was a retreat into the comfort of doing basic things, even if hard. It was a recoiling against the coldness and technological imperatives of the modern day.

It is said we have another half century or so before we hit the 400-million mark, but that assumes North Korea or Iran or some terrorist doesn’t decide to set off a bomb and kill a lot of people. Or the Avian flu doesn’t turn into the new black death. It is easy to be pessimistic.

The basic problem is that Walt Disney saw the future in terms of technological achievement. But technology is neutral; it can be put in the hands of good or evil. As we have lost consensus over ideas, such as “the Melting Pot”, we have lost certainty in our ability to mold good Americans. In 1967 what would one day be my middle school still offered “Civics and Citizenship”. By 1974 it had turned into Social Studies. There is a significant difference between the purposes of these courses.

There are 300 million hungry mouths to feed now and that is our job. With changing ethnicities, religious profiles, tastes and preferences, the food we sell will change. But the food industry does not exist separate and apart from the country, and we cannot prosper as an industry if we do not prosper as a nation. That is why the immigration debate has to be about more than who will pick the crops.

Our decision-making process in this democracy is often convoluted and, in studying the American founding, I can’t help but think that the quality of our leadership has declined over the years. Still, as Churchill reminded us, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all others…” and as Abraham Lincoln told us, this country surely is “the last best hope of man on earth” so it is worth making it work.

GE has dropped its sponsorship and the Carousel of Progress is now in Orlando and runs only occasionally. But Disney keeps it going and my children still love it… so do I. Let’s give a tip of the hat to the 300-millionth American who got here just yesterday. We are counting on you in ways you’ll never know.

Lorri Koster Co-Chairs Mann Packing

Filial devotion is always an appealing trait and so, as Lorri Koster assumes co-chairmanship of Mann Packing Company, thus taking up the mantle of her father, Don Nucci, who passed away unexpectedly during the summer, one cannot help but have admiration for this valiant woman.

That her assumption follows the death of her older brother, Joe Nucci, who was President and CEO of the company, when he died in July of 2005, adds special poignancy to the moment.

I can give first person testimony as to Lorri’s formidable abilities. Some years ago, she was the Associate Publisher West Coast operations for the Pundit’s sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine — and she is intelligent, tenacious, innovative and entrepreneurial.

A dedicated mother and loving wife who has built her own successful publishing and communications company, she has life experience that makes her an ideal candidate to carry on the legacy of this great produce family. Imagine a company that sells “fresh vegetables made easy” to mostly working mothers actually having a working mother in the boardroom. It boggles the mind.

Lorri and I had some fun, longer ago than either of us wants to admit, when we celebrated her 30th birthday at a convention in Las Vegas. I still remember doing the Conga with Lorri as Chef Rico at the Rio hotel led us in song.

In the wee hours of the morning, we talked about ambition and dreams, and she was filled with both. Now she has one of the most important positions in our industry. But she never wanted it this way.

The industry is very competitive, but it is also very close. When Bryan Silbermann and I each gave eulogies on the occasion of Joe’s death last year, we saw a produce community put aside all differences to pay respect.

So, in these times of food safety crisis, with blame and recriminations being passed all about, the industry will surely unite to wish Lorri God Speed in her new role. It brings to mind that ancient Gaelic blessing:

May the sun shine gently on your face.
May the rain fall soft upon your fields.
May the wind be at your back.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.
Until we meet again.

PulseNet Explains Why It Doesn’t
Work Weekends

We’ve been exploring the story both here and here that PulseNet, which is the major mechanism for identifying foodborne illness outbreaks — whether caused by terrorism or other reason — closes on the weekend

In the spinach crisis, the key report connecting the dots of people getting sick and their consumption of bagged spinach was sent to PulseNet after 5 pm on Friday, when PulseNet was closed for the weekend. It is possible that people got sick, because that important data sat unlooked at until Monday morning.

Here is the link to the LA Times article that establishes the timeline.

Pundit investigator Mira Slott was able to get a comment from Peter Gerner-smidt M.D., Ph.D., Acting Chief, Enteric Diseases Laboratory Response Branch, Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

Dr. Gerner-smidt gave his take:

The PulseNet laboratory and database at CDC is usually shut down during the weekends because the state laboratories don’t submit data to the database on weekends because they also are closed.

After the outbreak was recognized, PulseNet checked for submissions also during the weekends. The delay that is introduced in the surveillance by the PulseNet labs (at CDC and in the states) not working the weekends does not add much to the total time it takes to recognize an outbreak. It usually takes approximately two weeks from when a patient becomes ill with an O157 infection until the isolate is submitted to the PulseNet database.

Unless all the patients in an outbreak become ill at the same time, it will also take a few days before a sufficient number of isolates with indistinguishable profiles have been submitted to the database to enable the recognition of the outbreak. The first week is gone before the patient sees a doctor and has a stool specimen examined. The second week goes by finishing the diagnostic work in the clinical laboratory, forwarding the isolate to the public health lab, where it is confirmed as an O157 and sub-typed further by PFGE.

It would increase the cost of the PulseNet system considerably if the public health labs and CDC were to work routinely on weekends… funds that are not available.

To which there are a few responses:

  1. When Wisconsin entered its data into the system, Wisconsin was open, PulseNet was closed. At the very least, if PulseNet wants to conform to the hours of state laboratories, it has to do so from opening time on the East Coast to quitting time on the West Coast. Since these are scientists, doctors and public health professionals, it certainly is reasonable to think they may work until, say, 7:00 PM. So if the criteria is to conform to state lab hours, PulseNet should be open until at least 7:00 PM Pacific Time or 10:00 PM East Coast Time.
  2. Leaving state lab hours aside, Dr. Gerner-smidt’s rationale for being closed on weekends could apply equally to closing PulseNet on Wednesdays or any other day. Yes, of course, it typically takes more than one day to identify an outbreak, but there is an equal chance of sufficient data arriving at PulseNet at 5:15 PM on a Friday as there is on a Thursday or Wednesday. To not be open to review data that Wisconsin, much less Colorado or California or Hawaii, is sending in is unacceptable. And in this case people may have gotten sick unnecessarily.
  3. As far as the cost goes, keeping PulseNet open every day until California calls and says they are closing for the night is pretty insignificant as costs go. Strictly on a financial basis, remember that avoiding one death is a reduction of liability in the millions. Not to mention if it should ever be terrorism, obviously we would want to know the first possible second. Funds are never available until they are requested. I am going to bring this to the attention of some of our friends in Congress. We can find money for such an obviously sensible project.
  4. A whole other question is why in the world the state laboratories are closed on weekends. It seems like decisions on these matters are being thought of like a civil service issue rather than a need issue. Hotels are open on weekends because travelers need lodging every night. The desire of employees not to work weekends is really beside the point. Equally people get just as sick on Saturday as they do on Tuesday, and not processing these matters on the state level on the weekend delays passing the info to PulseNet. This means people are needlessly falling ill and, perhaps, even dying. It is simply unacceptable in this day and age.

There is one bright spot as Dr. Gerner-smidt went on to explain:

PulseNet is not changing its ways because of this outbreak. However, PulseNet is working on speeding up the detection of outbreaks by introducing new more rapid subtyping methods to supplement and perhaps replace PFGE in the future. One of these methods, called MLVA, is currently in the final stages of being validated and will gradually be introduced in the PulseNet laboratories starting now.

That is great, but speeding up the typing doesn’t change the fact that if California, Oregon and Washington each submitted some MLVA subtyping at 2:15 Pacific Time in the afternoon on Friday, nobody would do anything with the data until Monday morning. That is penny wise and pound foolish, and could cause people to suffer needlessly. That simply cannot be allowed to continue. I’m going to start my letter-writing right away.

Pundit’s Mailbag — Thermometers
In Refrigerators

Received a note from Joe McGuire, Division Vice President of Ready Pac, Inc. Joe is based in Branchburg, New Jersey, and I absolutely must publish his missive, which responds to a piece we wrote suggesting that we might need “…a law that requires new home refrigerators to have built-in thermometers and the ability to set the actual temperature as opposed to just a wheel that you can spin to get “colder” or “warmer”.

Joe sent this trenchant commentary our way:

I am trying to determine if you are being sarcastic with your idea of more legislation out of Washington. We don’t need the Nanny State in our refrigerators; we can regulate our own food temperature, thank you very much.

We must remember that government has two objects: position and power. The free markets work and they must be protected.

Joe, if you ever find your way to South Florida, look me up because drinks are on me. I will never forget Joe, because he is the first person ever to accuse the Pundit of excessive socialism.

Alas, we would have liked to be sarcastic about this issue as it does smack of government meddling in everything. However, it was in fact a real response to the botulism outbreak on certain Bolthouse-produced 100% carrot juice products. This issue got lost in the spinach/E. coli imbroglio, but is very important. You can review our coverage of the matter here.

People are paralyzed and Bolthouse and the FDA believe the most likely cause is that consumers did not maintain the proper temperature. One problem is that different authorities have different opinions on what the proper temperature is. Another problem is that many labels simply say “Keep Refrigerated” instead of indicating a particular temperature.

But even if a consumer knew what temperature to keep something at, how would a typical consumer know how to do it? Refrigerators don’t generally have temperature settings. They have a dial that says warmer or colder.

I’ve had the Bolthouse carrot juice in my own refrigerator. I haven’t the foggiest idea if it was kept at the right temperature. Now that is no big deal if we are talking about maintaining the right temperature so my produce doesn’t go rotten so fast. But if a mistake can cause enough bacteria grow that someone can get paralyzed, we better give the consumer some tools to deal with that responsibility.

If we were so purely capitalistic, then the rule would be “caveat emptor” or “let the buyer beware”. And since botulism is a possible natural condition on carrot juice, if someone got sick it would be an “assumption of the risk” by the buyer and, as long as the seller didn’t intentionally conceal anything, it would be the buyer’s problem. But that is not our world.

Many things cost almost nothing, and because of the efficiencies of mass production, a requirement for a thermostat in a refrigerator as opposed to a dial would cost very little. If consumers knew that they were responsible for maintaining certain temperatures, it is reasonable to think almost everyone would want such a thing.

In a world where New York is banning trans fat, Chicago is banning Foie Gras and McDonalds is being sued for making people fat, it seems to me a transgression of free markets of the smallest order to empower consumers to take care of themselves and their families via this proposal.

Botulism And Carrot Juice Summary V

We’ve been asked to make available in one place our coverage of the recall by Wm. Bolthouse Farms of certain 100% carrot juice products and the broader implications of this issue for food safety. This piece is updated regularly and will be re-run to include new coverage of this outbreak and issue.

We initiated our coverage on October 2, 1006, by publishing the FDA notice to consumers warning them not to drink the product, and we inquired as to the margin of safety on the product. You can find the piece, entitled Oh No! Another Outbreak, right here.

On October 4, 2006, we published Bolthouse And Juice Refrigeration, which analyzed the proper standard of refrigeration for vulnerable products and the ability of both the trade and consumers to maintain that cold chain. Read it here.

October 5, 2006, we ran Botulism III, which detailed the 12 steps in the distribution chain that the industry needs functioning properly in order to maintain the cold chain. The piece challenged retailers to evaluate the integrity of their own cold chain. You can find the piece here.

In The Botulism And E. coli Connection, which we ran on October 6, 2006, we noted similarities between the botulism outbreak on certain Bolthouse carrot juice and the spinach/E. coli outbreak. The piece is right here.

On October 10, 2006, we noted, in Bolthouse Botulism Case Hits Canada, that two Canadians were now victims of this botulism case and noted that it was an unusual cluster to occur at one time if the problem was solely temperature abuse by customers. You can catch it here.

October 11, 2006 we ran Carrot Juice Still On Canadian Shelves, we noted that Canadians were getting upset over the inability of Canada’s public health authorities to execute a simple product recall and that the frequency of recalls was raising questions over the safety of California produce. Read it right here.

On October 13, 2006 we ran Lobbying For Better Refrigeration urging industry lobbyists to work on legislation to make sure consumers have the tools they need to keep product safe at home. The article is here.

October 18, 2006, we ran a Pundit’s Mailbag — Thermometers In Refrigerators, disagreeing with our urging of legislation regarding thermostats and refrigeration. You can read the piece here.

Spinach Crisis Summary Rewind XV

With so much having been written in so short a time, thought it would be helpful to publish a sort of round-up of available material to help people understand the whole situation regarding spinach and this E. coli breakout:

The Perishable Pundit itself has dealt extensively with the subject in several major pieces. On September 15, 2006, we published Spinach Recall Reveals Serious Industry Problems, which addressed the implications of this crisis for the fresh-cut industry. You can read the piece here.

On September 18, 2006, we published Organic Dodges a Bullet, which deals with the implications of the outbreak for the future of organic farming. You can find this piece here. Also on September 18, 2006, we ran a piece called Ramifications and Reflections on the Spinach Recall, which provided our first 10-point analysis of the situation. You can read it here.

September 19, 2006, we asked Is FDA’s Concern Now an Obsession? — a piece in which we assessed whether a national recommendation to not eat spinach made any sense. You can review this here.

On September 20, 2006, we noted 10 Peculiarities about the E. coli Outbreak and reviewed why certain aspects of the situation are unlike past food-safety challenges and other unanswered questions regarding the outbreak. Read this one right here. Also on September 20, 2006, we did our third 10-point list, calling this one “Spinach Recall Begs for Solutions”, where we reviewed how the trade can deal with this issue for the future, including looking at the meat industry, the prospect of universal testing and the use of RFID and GTIN. You can read all this here.

On September 21, 2006, we asked Is FDA Causing Long-term Damage? Here we posed the question of whether punishing the innocent and the guilty alike doesn’t reduce incentives to invest in food safety. You can read this piece right here.

The September 25, 2006 edition of the Pundit includes our fourth 10-point list entitled Though Not ‘All-Clear’, Consumers Can Eat Spinach Again, which reviewed many issues facing the industry as spinach begins to reenter the market, including the FDA’s announcement, PMA consumer research, the behavior of industry association, battles over fresh-cuts and organics, the reintroduction of Salinas Valley production, the FDA’s capabilities, and more. You can read this piece here. Also on September 25, 2006, we reviewed The Role of Retailers And The Future Of Food Safety, which pointed out that buyers have an important role in insuring food safety. Catch this piece here.

Additionally, on September 25, 2006, we ran the Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industryin which a panel of retail pundits gave us insight into the way the spinach issue played in store and with consumers. You can read it here.

The Pundit on September 26, 2006, included an articled entitled The California Department of Health Services Owes People An Explanation in which the question was raised whether certain parties received preferential treatment in the current spinach/E. coli outbreak. Read it right here. Also on September 26, 2006, we did a piece questioning the efficacy of our trace-back systems. The piece was titled More Recalls Trickle In, and you can read it here.

On September 27, 2006, the Pundit analyzed the bad publicity that the Salinas Valley has received and asked Is Salinas Getting A Bum Rap On Food Safety? The piece can be read right here.

September 28, 2006, the Pundit included a piece entitled Call For Stronger FDA that analyzed the demand of some in the food industry for beefing up the FDA and its budget within the context of the spinach/E. coli situation. You can read it here.

On September 29, 2006 we did a piece called Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics that explored the contradiction of modern life that has led things to seem less safe, even as they are actually safer. Read the piece here.

October 2, 2006 we ran The FDA Needs to Reexamine Its Methodology, inquiring why it was necessary to shut down a whole industry when, as far as we know, it was only Dole brand bagged spinach that was implicated? Read it here. Also on October 2, 2006, in a piece called Needless Recalls, we examined how even if many of the recalls were unnecessary, the recalls revealed big flaws in the trade’s traceback systems. You can find the piece here. Another piece October 2, 2006, entitled Deconstructing FDA, analyzed the FDA’s statement regarding the end of the spinach crisis. The piece is right here.

The Pundit also ran a piece entitled Action Plan to Regain Consumer Confidencethat both discussed the industry plan and proposed an alternative plan. Read about it here. Also on October 2, 2006, we did a piece called Collateral Damage vs. Assumption of the Risk, which analyzed some of the liability issues surrounding the outbreak. You can find the piece here. Additionally, on October 2, 2006, we published the second in our series of Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry. This one including insight from Bob Edgell of Balls Foods and Ron McCormick of Wal-Mart, regarding reaction at retail as spinach outside California became available. Read it here.

On October 4, 2006, the Pundit ran a piece entitled In Defense of Salinas, in which, based on a discussion with a Salinas farmer, we outlined five points you need to understand about the relationship between the Salinas Valley and this outbreak. You can find it here. Also on October 4, 2006, we published Notes On Natural Selection: It Could Happen To You, which discussed the new food safety plan revealed by Natural Selection Foods and discussed the necessity of product testing. Read it here.

October 5, 2006, we analyzed the implications of the FBI raid in Salinas with Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… You can read the piece here. We also explained on October 5, 2006, the involvement of Growers Express in the FBI raid in a piece entitled Bailando Juntos (Dancing Together), which you can find right here. What’s more, we discussed on October 5, 2006, why Canada is still banning U.S. spinach and what that implies about relations between the FDA and CFIA. The piece is called U.S. Spinach Still Banned in Canada, and you can read it here.

On October 6, 2006, the Pundit pointed out the importance of considering the human costs of our actions in A Look At The Faces, which you can read here. Also on October 6, 2006, we analyzed how increased use of a federal network was bound to mean the recording of more frequent food safety outlets in a piece entitled PulseNet Ups Ante In Food Safety Battle, which can be read right here.

Although not strictly speaking spinach-related, when one company voluntarily recalled certain green leaf lettuce, it was a decision affected by the overall environment caused by the spinach/E. coli situation. In Nunes Recall Reveals Testing Dilemma, published on October 10, 2006, we analyzed how stricter standards may lead to more frequent recalls. Catch the piece here.

October 11, 2006 we pointed out that the Center for Disease Control was beginning to see fresh-cut in a whole new light. You can read CDC’s Aha! Moment right here. Also on October 11, 2006, we offered Heads Up — Political Posturing On Spinach Begins, pointing out that the a State Senator in California was going to start some hearings. Read the piece here.

On October 12, 2006, in PulseNet Asleep At The Wheel, we detailed that the nation’s food safety bulletin board likes to take off on weekends. Read this astounding piece here.

Dangerous E. coli Found On One Ranch ran on October 13, 2006, and points out that this finding doesn’t tell us much. Read it here. Also on October 13, 2006, we ran Fast Testing For Pathogens Necessary, which pointed out that product testing is bound to happen and discussed options and obstacles. You can read it here.

In addition, the Pundit has done several smaller pieces that touched on various aspects of this crisis. On September 18, 2006, we raised the issue of whether food safety outbreaks such as this raise long-term issues about the viability of cartoon character tie-ins in Who Has Marketing Fortitude? You can read about it here. Also on September 18, 2006, we wrote Fit To Be Tied, which dealt with the way some companies have little sense of decency when it comes to marketing their products in the midst of a crisis. You can read this one right here.

Additionally on September 18, 2006, our Pundit’s Mailbag focused on letters received by United President/CEO Tom Stenzel and incoming Chairman Emanuel Lazopoulos of Del Monte Fresh, which dealt with the confluence of United’s Board Meeting and the spinach crisis as well as issues of industry leadership. You can find this one here.

On September 19, 2006, we noted that there might be a Greenhouse Opportunity in all this. Read this here. Also on September 19, 2006, we noted that, though fruits and vegetables are healthy, fresh produce is not necessarily the best choice for those with a compromised immune system. The piece is called Marketing Nightmare and you can find it right here.

On September 21, 2006, we did a piece called Wal-Mart Deli/Bakery Has Crisis Of Its Own that draws a link between the difficulty of preventing a Salmonella outbreak at one store with the difficulty of preventing an E. coli outbreak on an industry-wide basis. You can read this piece here.

On September 25, 2006, the Pundit noted Another Oddity In Spinach Crisis and raised the question whether some or all of the product being marketed as conventional might not be organic. Read it right here. Also on September 25, 2006, we ran a Pundit’s Mailbag which dealt both with the utility of loyalty card programs and with the nature of large, multi-line fresh-cut packing facilities. You can read this one right here. Also we did a short piece on what change was actually necessary if consumers were to be reassured of the safety of spinach. Read it here.

On September 26, 2006, we discussed the issue of recalls and how insurance plays into that. You can read this here. Also had an unrelated piece on Wegmans that included a video clip on how consumer media is dealing with the reintroduction of spinach. You can catch it here.

Additionally on September 26, 2006, we ran a Pundit’s Mailbag exploring the causes of the outbreak. You can read this piece here.

September 27, 2006, we focused on a piece in the Washington Post that helps us in Putting Things In Perspective. How does the Spinach/E. coli outbreak relate to the total numbers that get sick and die each year from foodborne illness? You can read it right here.

On September 28, 2006, we published a terrific Pundit’s Mailbag exploring the frustration the buy side felt in dealing with the spinach/E. coli situation. Read it here.

October 2, 2006, we had some Questions For Western Growers that asked how far the WGA was willing to go to make sure foreign growers meet the same standards as Salinas area farmers. Read about it here. We also asked How Committed Is The Produce Industry To Broad/National Food Safety Program. You can read the piece here.

In addition, on October 2, we ran Pundit’s Mailbag: Another Despicable Marketing Attempt that pointed out how a seed company was taking advantage of the situation and, possibly, leading to harm, by pushing its products. Read about it here.

On October 4, 2006, we ran a piece entitled Primary And Secondary Suppliers, which details how this food safety crisis has to impact retail vendor selection. Catch it right here. Also on October 4, 2006, we discussed how to help innocent spinach farmers who were victimized by this crisis in Everyone Needs to Do A Little Bit. The Pundit pledged to do its own bit. Read it right here.

October 5, 2006, we ran a piece focused on another outbreak of foodborne illness — in this case, botulism in carrot juice. The focus, however, was on the necessity to change attitudes as the produce industry becomes less a packing industry and more a processing industry. It is called Botulism III, and you can read it here.

On October 6, 2006 we pointed out The Botulism And E. coli Connection where we explained that our focus on pathogens at the product source, though important, is insufficient. Read it here. Also on October 6, 2006 we ran Pundit’s Mailbag: What Are The feds Up To? This answered a reader’s letter inquiring as to whether the FBI being in Salinas implied industry members weren’t cooperating. You can find this item here.

Food Safety, Good Delivery And Temperature Monitoring was published on October 10, 2006, and pointed out that old temperature recording devices have to be superseded by new temperature monitoring technology on all trucking of vulnerable products. Catch the piece here.

On October 11, 2006, we ran a piece that grew out of the decision of Publix to stop giving some perishables away because of food safety concerns it is called Culture of Risk-Aversion Hurts the Poor and you can read it here.

Nunes Tests Negative on October 13, 2006, raises the question of the appropriateness of recalls for generic E. coli in irrigation water. Read it here. Also on October 13, 2006, we ran Lobbying For Better Refrigeration, which pointed out that consumers are not given the tools needed to be vigilant at home.

In addition on October 13, 2006, we published PulseNet Redux pointing out, once again, that this outbreak could have been caught earlier had the government not taken off for the weekend. Read it here. Also on October 13, 2006 we ran a Pundit’s Mailbag — Population Inured by Recalls? This piece raised the possibility that frequent recalls, with no subsequent illness, would rebound to the benefit of the trade. Please read it here.

On October 17, 2006, we ran Will Hydroponics Be A Solution To Spinach Woes? and analyzed the potential of hydroponics to head off future outbreaks. Read it here.

Several additional pieces appear in the Perishable Pundit today, and they will be incorporated into future iterations of this Spinach Crisis Summary.

In addition to our own work, there are many excellent sources of information out there that do not require payment, membership or registration. Three of the Pundit’s favorites:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has offered daily information on the crisis right here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deal with the outbreak here.

The Produce Marketing Association has maintained an excellent industry resource on the subject right here.

Please feel free to write or call if you are looking for specific information not included here. Note that many of the articles and websites have links to other resources.

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