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Perishable Pundit
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The Perishable Pundit’s
Unsung Heroes Award

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate that the industry should give thanks to those who perform yeoman’s service for the trade. So often we highlight the same people over and over again. These are the CEOs, the Presidents, the board members, the big names and, of course, these people work hard and do immensely important things.

But they don’t do it all… or even most of it. So on this Thanksgiving Eve, we launch a new occasional series for the Pundit in which we highlight people who do important and valuable work, but are not often recognized for that work.

In the aftermath of the spinach crisis, it wasn’t even close to select our first three honorees.

The spinach crisis was an immensely important event, and our association leadership — people including Bryan Silbermann of PMA, Tom Stenzel of United Fresh, Tom Nassif of Western Growers Association and James Bogart of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California — all participated as headline speakers at numerous events.

This public role was essential to give the industry a public face during a very public crisis. Add to this fact that all these people had “day jobs” running organizations and you realize that they deserve all the credit they get.

In this situation, there were also countless hours of difficult, technical work. Discussions with government agencies, with industry technical teams and much more — all to get the spinach re-start up and going.

Many staff members contributed to this, of course, but our Unsung Heroes were the ones who really carried water for the trade through this technical process. As such, the very first people we recognize as Unsung Heroes are, in alphabetical order:

  • HANK GICLAS, Vice President, Science and Technology, Strategic Planning, Western Growers Association
  • DAVID GOMBAS, Vice President, Scientific and Technical Affairs, United Fresh Produce Association
  • JIM GORNY, Senior Vice President, Food Safety & Technology, United Fresh Produce Association

We’ve put up photos and brief bios of each of these men so you can recognize them and know them better. If you see them at an industry event, we hope you will say thank you.

Each recipient of The Perishable Pundit’s Unsung Heroes Award will receive a beautiful plaque and a $25 gift card. The gift card is our way of letting our honorees know that the industry wants to buy these gentlemen a drink.

Hank Giclas
Vice President, Science and Technology, Strategic Planning
Western Growers

Hank Giclas has served as Western Growers’ vice president of science, technology and strategic planning since July of 2002. In addition to his oversight of science and technology, he leads strategic planning initiatives for the organization and serves as a liaison with many academic and corporate research departments throughout the nation.

Hank Giclas graduated from the University of Arizona in 1988 with a bachelor’s in agricultural education. He began his career at Western Growers in the Phoenix office as Public Affairs Director where he was deeply involved in all aspects of agriculture policy in both Arizona and California. He also served as Vice President of Science and Governmental Affairs in the Sacramento office.

The University of Arizona named Giclas as the recipient of its Alumni Achievement Award for 2005. The award by the university’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences was presented at the 2006 Spring Awards Banquet at the university’s Student Affairs Center in Tucson, Arizona. Giclas was citied for his influential work regarding public policy and career success. He was also lauded for his role in organizing and developing Western Growers’ new science and technology division. Under his leadership this new division has gained an outstanding reputation for dealing with critical issues such as food safety, agricultural chemicals, crop protection, water policy, environmental programs and related policy issues.

Giclas was one of the principle architects of the April Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Lettuce and Leafy Greens document. This work and others, in conjunction with FDA and CDFA prepared Giclas well for playing a key role during the food safety crisis.

Giclas served as an industry panelist testifying before the state Senate Government Organization Committee hearing (in October) on the outbreak.

He continues to work closely with regulatory and industry leaders in helping to resolve and perfect food safety guidelines.

David Gombas
Vice President
Scientific and Technical Affairs
United Fresh Produce Association

Dr. David Gombas currently serves as the Vice President of Scientific and Technical Affairs at United Fresh Produce Association. Dr. Gombas provides technical, food safety, regulatory and public policy assistance for the fresh and fresh-cut produce industry.

Previously, Dr. Gombas was with the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), where he served as Vice President of NFPA’s laboratories for microbiology, chemistry and processing research and technical assistance in Washington D.C. During this period, he developed and delivered various training courses, co-authoring the manual HACCP Verification and Validation along with several publications on HACCP design and implementation. Later, Dr. Gombas served as Vice President of NFPA-SAFE, the Association’s auditing program for the food industry.

Prior to working at NFPA, Dr. Gombas served in Microbiology and Food Safety departments at Campbell Soup Company and Kraft Foods. In 1993, he was Research Professor of Food Safety at the National Center for Food Safety and Technology, working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop HACCP training courses for FDA investigators.

Dr. Gombas received his Ph.D. in food microbiology at University of Massachusetts, and an M.S. and B.S in food science from Rutgers University and MIT respectively.

Jim Gorny, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President
Food Safety & Technology
United Fresh Produce Association

Dr. Jim Gorny currently serves as Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology for the United Fresh Produce Association where he leads the association’s food safety, quality assurance, supply chain technology and food security programs on behalf of the association’s members. As the chief food safety officer at United Fresh, he advocates the membership’s interests before all relevant health and safety regulatory officials, the Bush Administration, and the Congress.

Dr. Gorny received his Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of California at Davis in 1995, and his B.S. and M.S. degrees in food science from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

He is the author and editor of numerous scientific and technical publications pertaining to the quality and safety of fresh produce. Dr. Gorny is most recently a contributor and co-editor of a book entitled The Microbiology of Fruits and Vegetables, published in August 2005 by CRC Press. He is also the 2005 recipient of the International Fresh-cut Produce Association Technical Award.

Actively involved in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry since 1986, Dr. Gorny has worked extensively on food safety issues including implementation of Good Agricultural Practices, modified atmosphere packaging, quality assurance, operations, and general management issues, both nationally and internationally. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of California, where he serves as an extension educator in produce industry courses related to the postharvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Spinach Farmers Won’t Be Thanking
Certain Processors This Holiday

Probably the best single guide to the FDA’s thinking about the spinach crisis is the testimony of Robert E. Brackett, Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, United States Senate.

It contains a fascinating revelation:

“…FDA’s San Francisco District Office and California Department of Health Services’ Food and Drug Branch hosted a conference call with three spinach-processing firms to advise them of the outbreak and to suggest that they consider the possible need to recall spinach products.”

Note that the conference call was with THREE spinach-processing firms. We know that Natural Selection Foods was on the conference call and immediately began the voluntary recall of its products.

This paragraph indicates that there were two other processors on the line. We know that they did not announce a recall. It is quite possible that it was the decision of these two firms not to voluntarily recall that led the FDA to issue its blanket advisory.

In other words, the flowery language we have heard about everyone stepping up to the plate was not true. The FDA asked three processors to do a voluntary recall. Two processors declined to act — and, in that decision lay the proximate cause of the advisory to consumers not to eat spinach.

Read the entire testimony here.

If You Are Eating Out For Thanksgiving…

Note the small print on any condiment bottles: “Not for Resale.” Hidden within Bob Brackett’s testimony before a Senate committee is this doozy:

On September 14, FDA held a press teleconference and issued a press release alerting consumers about the outbreak, stating that preliminary epidemiological evidence suggested that bagged fresh spinach may be the cause and advising consumers to avoid bagged fresh spinach. Over the course of the next few days, the advisory was expanded to include all fresh spinach to ensure that consumers could adequately avoid eating any tainted product. This revision to the initial advisory became necessary when we learned that bagged spinach was sometimes sold in an un-bagged form at the retail level.

So, basically, what this is saying is that every bag of spinach sold in a retail package should have a line: “Not To Be Opened And Sold As Loose Spinach,” and retailers have to be informed that their salad bars and deli operations have to purchase specific foodservice packages of spinach.

Here is a simple way that retailers could help the industry: All retailers should sign a pledge that no packaged product bought for retail sale will be used loose in their stores.

This commitment fits with the trend of substantial retail foodservice operations using both more produce and different produce than is sold at retail. It also will end a sacred tradition at retail in which deli managers source produce by sending the night clerk in to steal it.

By being able to reassure the FDA in any future outbreak that retail product is retail product and foodservice product is foodservice product, we significantly reduce the likelihood of a total industry shutdown.

The Thanksgiving Menu: Turkey, Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes And Warm Blackberry Passion Fruit Soup?

Mintel has a new report out claiming that the hot new trend is soup made from fruit:

Fruits are warming soup offerings on fine dining menus. According to Mintel Menu Insights, a resource that tracks national restaurant trends, traditional vegetable soup flavors are feeling the heat from more experimental fruit combinations and flavor creations. Fruit was once reserved for chilled appetizers or refreshing dessert soups. Now, chefs are experimenting with them as main centerpieces for their hot soup creations.

“Chefs continue to be innovative in the fruits they use in dishes across the board,” said Maria Caranfa, registered dietitian and director of Mintel Menu Insights. “They are now showing that fruits and soups can blend to create great taste offerings. We expect to see chefs push the creations in this category as consumers show that they are willing to try new and interesting flavors of soup. Vegetables no longer hold exclusive power within this realm.”

According to a Mintel report, more than 91 percent of respondents claimed that some type of soup is served in their household. Due to the universal appeal of soup, chefs are continuing to introduce a variety of hot and cold fruit soup offerings. According to Mintel Menu Insights, the top fruit flavors used in soup include: apple, Sultana raisins, pomegranate, mandarin orange, winter melon, kafir lime, strawberry, and apricot.

In the hot soup category, chefs are taking advantage of seasonal and local ingredients. The Putney Inn (Putney, Vermont) serves Baked Five Apple Soup, featuring Grafton Village smoked cheddar with an apple fan. At the Abacus Restaurant (Dallas, Texas), they serve Warm Blackberry Passion Fruit Soup and Heirloom Apple Turnover, along with crème brulee ice cream. Upstream (Charlotte, North Carolina.) introduced Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, complete with duck confit, toasted walnuts and spiced crema.

The cold fruit soup category also is booming in innovation. Fruit soups are seen as offering a clean way to start or end a meal. Clio (Boston, Massachusetts.) presents Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup, including gulf shrimp, radishes, caviar and oxalis. For more variety in the chilled category, Le Bec Fin (Philadelphia, Philadelphia) serves their Chilled Soup Trio, featuring cherry, papaya, and strawberry soups. Janos Restaurant (Tucson, Arizona) has also served their signature San Xavier Co-Op Chilled Melon and Ginger Soup with Mango Sorbet and Mint Syrup, featuring chilled locally-harvested honeydew and cantaloupe, scented with sweet ginger and agave nectar with melting mango and mint syrup.

“Due to the versatility and popularity of many fruit flavors in other parts of restaurant menus, the emergence of fruit soup is a natural flavor extension,” said Caranfa. “Fruits are showcased in salsa, dipping sauces, and main entrees. Fruits provide a new way to add a healthy, sweet dimension to menus.”

As the Produce for Better Health Foundation prepares to roll out its More Matters program, reports such as this are important.

In the end, consumption increases because people find additional eating occasions to consume a product.

More Matters is a philosophy, but to implement it people need ways to do it. They need to think naturally about eating produce when they may not have previously thought of doing so.

Hopefully my headline is taken as a joke; we don’t want to displace the pumpkin or squash folks. But if 10% of the people who eat a chicken- or beef-based soup make a switch, you will have real consumption increases.

Exhortation helps, but it works best if we look out for specific eating occasions to promote.

Pundit’s Mailbag — Thankfulness

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the Pundit gives thanks for having readers such as this:

Your handling of all these issues on a daily basis must certainly be taxing to you.

Personally, I have learned so much about the salad side of the industry. The politics of PMA, United and FDA leave me puzzled as I look at two very expensive invoices on my desk for dues to both PMA and United in 2007. The merger of PMA and United is critical, and I hope you can continue to press for it. PMA needs to graciously absorb United or risk offending the “die hard United supporters.”

The industry needs one voice, an uninterrupted stream of “clout” and even more important, the industry needs to have a focused grass roots support system where every farmer, co-op, packer, processor, trucker retailer, wholesaler is in touch with elected officials in their area constantly supporting the work of our one “super organization” in effectively protecting and promoting tremendous growth for all aspects of our industry. In this case, the sum of all the parts will always be greater than individual associations and large companies.

FMI’s bi-annual convention plan allows a tremendous opportunity for United to join with PMA for one super-convention. Pundit, this is going to take a lot of work, but the fruits of this labor will be tremendous for all of us.

Regarding the stated goal of 100% success in eliminating any potential bacteria in our fresh food system, the cost associated with perfection will potentially price fresh produce out of production and consumption.

Irradiation and great fences are still not enough to protect our produce from fork to table. Pushing hard in those directions will be expensive and without a definite positive result.

Instead, the industry should review all HACCP, farm practices, processing, transportation, storage, wholesale, and retail steps and come up with a voluntary plan to constantly keep as many of the variables as possible in check. As an industry we can certainly get this accomplished without pricing ourselves out of business.

We have to remember that at the base of all these food hazard outbreak reports is the national reporting system that has just been instituted that links together hospital reports from all over the country and gives a quick take on any outbreaks.

These outbreaks could have been happening for the last fifty years without a reporting way to connect them. What we have seen so far is not the end of this.

We will no doubt as an industry take charge of making sure that our house is in order and take all the necessary steps to minimize as much as is humanly possible the potential for outbreaks of any problems caused by fresh produce.

Now a few comments about the Pundit:

Your extensive coverage leaves no subject without great healthy discussion, and no topic is too sacred. Your courage in stating your opinion and your reaction to criticism is respectful and honest. As an added bonus you have taught this Pundit fan quite a bit about the power of the internet.

Any one who is interested can refer back to articles and items that are relative to the subject with tremendous ease. That is an education for those of us who are still refining our computer skills.

The Pundit must continue this valuable service which points me to a note I passed to you in the first few days of your beginning this valuable service.

Every-day publishing is a big responsibility. The industry needs this Pundit, strong, healthy, and available, perhaps not every day, but certainly as issues come up and on a regular basis.

It would be a shame if the Pundit burned out from over production…..

Thanks again for this tremendous industry service you provide.

We have always been fans of your magazine. We have turned to your editorials as the most important journalism in the industry, and now we get them every day. Don’t run out of energy. You have become the “voice” and we need you strong.

— Harris Cutler
Race-West Company
Clarks Summit, PA

The exciting thing about the Internet is that one never runs out of energy because the whole industry gets hooked into a permanent feedback loop. Here at the Pundit, when we make a mistake we get blasted; when we do something right we get praised; when things need to be done, we are told.

Harris’ letter is both thoughtful and revealing. His mention about the two invoices on his desk brings down, in a very real way, the issue the industry is confronting. The Internet is going to democratize decision making as it is already democratizing information.

Many times over the past century, decisions have been made by a small coterie on a board. One senses change in the air, that the old ways cannot hold, that a new generation used to instantaneous information is going to start asking questions. And start speeding up decision cycles.

Unfortunately, our boards, though technically democratic, are really self-perpetuating and all too often they get captured by the CEO. So decisions sometimes are made with too much consideration for individuals and not enough for the industry at large.

That can only go on though as long as the industry is willing to pay for it.

Harris also exhibits a dose of practical good sense when he points out that perfection is not to be had in human affairs and that advances in technology have made the reporting of outbreaks commonplace. But in all probability, the food supply is safer than ever.

Although we are told incessantly that this doesn’t matter and we have to keep insisting that only zero illnesses from our product is acceptable, the Pundit finds that the truth tends to matter over time. As much as we want to be safer, we also want the world to be realistic about the trade-offs involved. So maybe we need a two-track educational effort to both educate the industry on how to do things safer and the regulatory community and population at large on what is reasonable.

As to Harris’ kind words for the Pundit, we only wish we had more hours to deal with the fascinating issues this wonderful industry must contend with. As long as readers like Harris keep writing, we find this work not taxing but invigorating.

We have much to be thankful for this holiday.

Thanksgiving and Punditry

The Pundit, Mrs. Pundit and junior Pundits, Primo and Segundo, will all spend Thanksgiving with Momma and Poppa Pundit. It is a special occasion for us as Poppa Pundit overcame great adversity this year and so we will celebrate Thanksgiving with special joy.

Although Momma Pundit cooked Thanksgiving dinner all through the Pundit’s childhood, when there is an illness in the family it is often the spouse who suffers most. They are alert and cognizant, where their partner is often drugged and out of it. So in gratitude for her perseverance the family has now permanently enjoined Momma Pundit from cooking big meals — so the forty odd of us rented a room and are off to a restaurant for Thanksgiving.

We all have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. But it is not the story the schoolchildren are taught that is what we should be appreciative of.

Here is an interesting interpretation of what really happened in the early years of Plymouth Colony.

The Pilgrims were not economists and so they set up the Colony and:

… …had required that all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock." A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that "young men that are most able and fit for labor and service" complained about being forced to spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children." Also, "the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak." So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

The situation was a disaster and so a change was made:

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

So as we give thanks on Thanksgiving, it should not be solely for food and a bountiful harvest. It should also be for ideas, as these are the things that make everything else possible.

This proposition animates what we do here at the Perishable Pundit so we are going to close down a few days to give thanks and to recharge the intellectual batteries.

We appreciate the time you spend with us each day and the dynamic quality of the ideas we share. We are thankful for the opportunity to think about such a great industry and engage with such fantastic people.

We will publish again on Monday night. A Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative Recap VI

There is an ad-hoc group that started it all, the National Restaurant Association has its group working on a program and the Food Marketing Institute has a conference planned. All these buyer-led initiatives can get confusing, so to assist the trade in keeping track of them all, we are publishing this recap of coverage all in one place.

As new developments, occur we will continue to update this recap to help keep the trade organized on this important subject.

On September 25, 2006, in the midst of the spinach crisis, we published The Role of Retailers And The Future Of Food Safety, which pointed out that it is the “representations and warranties” that buyers demand that define the food safety programs we get:

“…in the end, the strength of our food safety systems is at least as dependent on what retailers demand as they are on what the government does for the simple reason that what retailers pay for is what they are going to get.”

Then in the issue of the Pundit’s sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, which was unveiled at the PMA Convention in San Diego on October 21, 2006, we published Food Safety Is A Retail Issue, which pointed out:

“…what holds suppliers back is not that they need an FDA regulation — it is that they need to see a willingness on the part of buyers to pay more to obtain a higher level of food safety and security. So far that is missing.”

The Buyer-led Initiative for Food Safety was then announced. In time it came to be signed on to by nine important buying organizations:

Ron Anderson, Safeway, Inc.
David Corsi, Wegman’s Food Markets
Gary Gionnette, Supervalu Inc.
Reggie Griffin, Kroger Company
Mike Hansen, Sysco Corporation
Gene Harris, Denny’s Corporation
Frank Padilla, Costco Wholesale
Greg Reinauer, Amerifresh, Inc.
Tim York, Markon Cooperative

Here at the Pundit, we applauded the buyer-led effort but on October 30, 2006, ran a piece entitled Buyer-Led Food Safety Effort Leaves Open Question Of Buyer Commitment, in which we pointed out:

“What would be helpful from these buyers is…a reassurance to the grower/shipper/packer/processor community that investments in food safety will be protected.”

As Gene Harris of Denny’s added his endorsement to the Buyer-led Initiative for Food Safety, we published, Pundit’s Mailbag — Denny’s Weighs In On Food Safety Effort on November 1, 2006, and we pointed out that the Western Growers Association was now looking for mandatory standards:

“Buyers can impose standards on their suppliers, but it seems as if the big grower members of WGA are more inclined to go with a mandatory program. Perhaps because this is more easily “saleable” to consumers, perhaps because the growers have no confidence that buyers will ever agree to a uniform standard on food safety and, perhaps, because growers know that buyers today can have the best of intentions but situations change and buyer’s change — and if legal product is available for much less money, that will put a lot of pressure on an organization to change its standards.”

On November 2, 2006, we highlighted an Opportunity For Buyers’ Food Safety Initiative, where we wrote the following:

“Here’s the Pundit’s suggestion to the buyers: Don’t wait for the deadline to pass. Withdraw the letter to the associations, which can only lead to endless negotiations with grower/shippers and watered-down food safety standards. Instead, create a temporary ad hoc consortium to spearhead the quick development of science-based food safety standards.

In the short term, these will be enforced by buyer demand, hopefully including other buyers who will buy into the plan; in the medium run the plan will be turned over to state authorities in California and federal authorities in Washington, D.C., as the basis for new mandatory regulation.”

We pointed out that this initiative may not stay in the hands of the ad hoc group leading the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative when, on November 7, 2006, we announced: National Restaurant Association Forms Produce Safety Working Group and pointed out:

“What we should have learned from the FDA loss of confidence in the industry is that food safety is not something that we negotiate over. It has to be driven by the best scientific knowledge we have.”

Mark Munger of Andrew-Williamson Fresh Produce, a grower/shipper, pitched in his thoughts on the important role buyers play in the food safety arena and, on November 8, 2006, we published Pundit’s Mailbag — Insights From A Conscientious Grower, which specifically praised one foodservice customer:

I also have to commend one of our customers, who I believe demonstrates the value of collective partnerships between growers and customers. Two years ago we began working with Darden Restaurants. Darden takes food safety very seriously. They have empowered a food safety team that must approve each and every supplier. They have inspectors in the field who make weekly random inspections of growing operations, picking and packing programs. When problem issues are identified, they work closely with our food safety team to help educate our team and to ensure that collectively we fix the problem. The knowledge that an inspector can be in any field or packing shed at anytime has forced us to treat every day as an inspection day.

Additionally, Darden’s food safety team is separate from their buying team. If a farm is not up to par, they have the authority to stop all transactions until the problems are fixed. They truly put their money where their mouth is and have helped us become a markedly better company. I cannot think of a better example of the power of collective thinking between suppliers and customers. I think the industry would be well served to learn more about their programs and create similar models.

Not surprisingly, the Food Marketing Institute was not going to be content to sit this one out and, on November 10, 2006, we published FMI Steps Into The Food Safety Fray,which detailed a conference scheduled for December 5th at which FMI would host representatives from industry, associations, academia and government to advance food safety issues. Unfortunately, FMI decided to exclude the media and we pointed out:

“…if the goal is to build public confidence in the process the industry is going through, you not only open it to media, you send a velvet invitation to the big consumer media groups.

It smells of smoke-filled rooms where deals will be cut in secret. If you let in some light and air, everyone will have more confidence in the final product.”

On November 14, 2006, we published Pundit’s Mailbag: Grower/Shipper Calls Buyer Led-Food Safety Initiative Hollow Call To Action, in which a respected grower/shipper pointed out that “This is where the retailers must step out of their ivory towers and get their walk (vendor relationship) to match their talk (aligned supply chain)… If those who signed on to this letter would get committed to buying only from “qualified suppliers,” the laws of supply and demand will drive the solution and we will quickly catch up with the rest of the world in this critical area.”

On November 17, 2006, we featured Tale Of Two Buyers, in which we pointed out: “If the VPs are sincere about wanting the buyers to place food safety first, the VPs have the responsibility for changing the culture and the economic incentive systems.”

On November 21, 2006, we published Tim York Takes Leadership Role In Food Safety Crisis, which features an extensive interview with Tim York of Markon Cooperative as well as the announcement that the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative gained ten new retail signatories:

  • Mike O’Brien, Vice President Produce & Floral, Schnuck Markets, St. Louis, Missouri
  • James Spilka, Vice President Produce, Meijer, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Mark Vanderlinden, Vice President Produce Merchandising, Price Chopper, Schenectady, New York
  • Greg Corrigan, Director Produce & Floral, Raley’s, West Sacramento, California
  • Craig Carlson, Vice President Produce, Pathmark Stores, Carteret, New Jersey
  • Don Harris, Vice President Produce & Floral, Wild Oats Markets, Boulder, Colorado
  • Bryan Gannon, Director Produce & Floral, Big Y Supermarkets, Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Jim Corby, Vice President, Produce Merchandising. Food Lion, Salisbury, North Carolina
  • Roger Schroeder, Vice President Produce, Stater Bros., Colton, California
  • Craig Ignatz, Vice President Produce Merchandising, Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Despite the impressive show of buyer support, we expressed some concern: “…it is also pretty clear that the prospect of one unified food safety standard acceptable to every one of the signatories, much less to those who have declined to sign, is somewhere between nil and nothing.”

Botulism And Carrot Juice Summary XXIV

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, 2006, 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.

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