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“We’re like the dodo bird. We’re almost extinct.”

— Mal Middlesworth
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association

Mal Middlesworth is 83 years old now, but he was an 18-year-old Marine serving on the U.S.S. San Francisco on December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association just held what is expected to be their final reunion:

“The survivors in Honolulu this week, many hunched, some in wheelchairs, men deeply wrinkled yet still trying to trade a history lesson for a quick kiss on the cheek, collectively know one thing: They defied death 65 years ago, but the inevitable is creeping up on them. They know this from the pain in their backs and hips. They know this as their eyesight fades and their hearing fails. And they know this because every five years, when they return to Pearl Harbor and find that their old buddies are not there, it’s a reminder that their friends either couldn’t endure the arduous Hawaii flight or died within the last few years.

“At our little happy hours each night you see the guys sitting alone who don’t have any old shipmates to speak with because they’ve all died…”

Some of the survivors are passing away not certain that America learned the lesson of Pearl Harbor:

The survivors say they have more than horrific memories to offer. “Remember Pearl Harbor” is just the first half of the association’s motto; the rest is “Keep America alert.”

Martinez said many Pearl Harbor survivors were disheartened by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, “as if they had not done their job hard enough.”

Once again, it seemed that America had been caught sleeping.

They are building a new museum, to go along with the USS Arizona memorial so that future generations will remember Pearl Harbor. You can learn about and donate to the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum & Visitor Center on this website.

The forward magazines of the USS Arizona ignite
after Japanese Bomber Attack

— Photo courtesy USS Arizona Memorial

Will Green Onions Ever Get
Back On The Menu Of Taco Bell?

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services was out first with the official news:

Laboratory tests at the Department of Health and Senior Services have confirmed that 11 of 33 people with culture confirmed cases of E coli 0157 likely have the same strain of the disease.

Only one test result has been received confirming the presence of the H7 strain of the disease, which is far more serious and can result in kidney failure. The remaining test results on the H7 strain are pending.

The Department is investigating a total of 55 reports of illnesses in New Jersey residents from 13 counties: Middlesex, Union, Somerset, Camden, Passaic, Essex, Cape May, Mercer, Gloucester, Monmouth, Hunterdon, Ocean and Bergen.

Nearly 80 percent of the illnesses reported have involved eating at a Taco Bell franchise. The individuals reported getting sick between Nov. 9 and Dec. 6 and have an age range of 1-51 years.

“While our investigation is continuing, today’s results preliminarily link these 11 patients to the same strain of E coli,’’ said Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

“This additional information provides more evidence that these cases may indeed be related,’’ Dr. Jacobs said.

Dr. Jacobs stressed that the food source that may be linked to this multi-state outbreak has yet to be identified

The New York State Department of Health has issued its notice and the Department of Health in Pennsylvania issued its press release as did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) on the national level.

The CDC had the best succinct synopsis of what we know today:

As of 1 PM (ET) December 7, 2006, Thursday, 58 cases associated with this outbreak have been reported to CDC from 6 states: New York (19), New Jersey (28), Pennsylvania (8), Delaware (1), South Carolina (1), and Utah (1). Other cases of E. coli O157 infection are under investigation by state public health officials. The vast majority of patients reported eating at a particular fast-food restaurant chain, Taco Bell. No specific food has been implicated yet.

Among the ill persons, 48 (83%) were hospitalized and 7 (12%) developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Illness onset dates have ranged from November 20 to December 2. The risk to the public is considered ongoing and we expect additional cases to be identified in the coming days.

Ready Pac, which does not sell green onions as part of its normal product line, processed specially packed green onions in its Florence, New Jersey plant just for Taco Bell and has stopped production and shipment of green onions.

Boskovich Farms, which sold green onions to Ready Pac, said it is working with everybody to figure it all out, that it has a great food safety program and that it is sad that people have fallen ill.

So far the link to green onions is not confirmed. All we have is Taco Bell’s previous statement:

December 6, 2006 — Taco Bell Corp. announced today that it has removed green onions at all of its approximately 5,800 restaurants nationwide. The move is strictly a precautionary effort following recent E.coli 0157:H7 outbreaks believed to be linked to several of its restaurants in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The company has been working around the clock with State and County Health Department officials in these three states, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the root cause of this issue.

While tests are preliminary and not yet conclusive, three samples of green onions were found to be presumptive positive for E. coli 0157:H7 by an independent testing laboratory engaged by Taco Bell. Upon learning of the presumptive positive results, the company took immediate action by notifying health authorities and its restaurants. State health officials are conducting their own testing and Taco Bell is awaiting final analysis from this ingredient testing.

“In an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to pull all green onions from our restaurants until we know conclusively whether they are the cause of the E. coli outbreak,” said Greg Creed, Taco Bell President. “Taco Bell’s first concern is the health and safety of our customers and employees. We have been working closely with state health authorities to establish the root cause of this issue. Based on the preliminary test results we received late last night, the company did not want to wait and took immediate action to safeguard public health.”

Once conclusive test results are available, the company will immediately provide that information to the public, including commercial supplier information. The company has an established Toll Free Number 1-800 TACO BELL to enable all customers or employees affected by the outbreak, or those having questions or concerns regarding this issue, to contact Taco Bell. Consumers can also visit www.tacobell.com for information.

Taco Bell remains strangely silent. A press release hidden on a back page in its website is its approach. And Yum! Brands, its parent company, continues to pretend it is not involved with not a word on the website. Very strange.

Perhaps they are all suffering a severe case of deja vue as they remember the year 2000 when green onions and Taco Bell were implicated in a Hepatitis A outbreak .

The big loss for spinach in its E. coli crisis was in the reformulation of spring mixes and menu changes at restaurants. Those types of changes represent business lost forever.

One wonders if they will ever put green onions back on the menu?

One thing is certain… all the initiatives for food safety better ask hard questions on the issue we raised yesterday:

The produce industry may get a real black eye on this one. In his testimony, following the spinach E. coli outbreak before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of the United States Senate, Robert E. Brackett, Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, specifically mentioned green onions:

Since 2005, as part of the Produce Safety Action Plan, FDA has provided technical assistance to industry in developing guidance for five commodity groups: cantaloupes, lettuce and leafy greens, tomatoes, green onions, and herbs. These commodities account for more than 80% of the foodborne outbreaks associated with produce. Three of the guidance documents (for cantaloupes, tomatoes, and lettuce and leafy greens) have been completed. We have recently made these guidance documents available, and FDA has done outreach and training with the industry to implement the guidance. FDA is still working on the commodity-specific guidance for herbs and green onions.

In March of this year, we released draft guidance for the fresh-cut produce industry, “Draft Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables.” We are currently working to finalize this guidance document.

The question that will soon be asked: What is the hold-up on developing commodity-specific guidelines for green onions? Does our industry have a good answer?

Posh Nosh And Premium Food

Lately the chatter across the pond has been about the “posh nosh” or the move among British retailers to sell more upscale items:

While “value” and “low-price guaranteed” tags can still boost sales of basic household items like flour and soap, in Britain today it’s the Finest, Taste the Difference or Extra Special labels that all but guarantee those vine-ripened tomatoes fly off the shelves.

Food scares have combined with campaigns promoting healthier food to change the way Britain shops and eats. Mad cow fears in 1996 all but halted beef eating in Britain, while poultry sales sagged after bird flu spread into Western Europe last winter.

As a result, U.K. consumers now care more about where the food comes from and how it was produced, and worry just that little bit less about the cost.

It is interesting. One wonders if we will see a flight to quality among consumers of fresh produce due to the food safety outbreaks on produce?

This piece claims the retailers are all in favor due to higher profit margins on upscale goods:

As the trend for premium foods gathers steam, retail leaders Tesco and J. Sainsbury have come to realize what’s good on the table can also beef up the bottom line. They’ve expanded their top-of-the-range offering of premium goods, which are described as organic, fair trade and products from niche luxury brands.

Organic food is produced according to legally regulated standards, for crops without the use of conventional pesticides and artificial fertilizers. For animals, organic means they’re reared without the routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones. Fair trade, meanwhile, promotes equitable international standards.

Even Asda, the U.K. supermarket chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores whose focus has traditionally been on low prices, is awake to the growing demand for posh nosh, catering to it with its Extra Special range. Asda is Wal-Mart’s largest business outside the U.S., representing half its international income and about 10% of overall sales.

Sales of premium foods typically represent less than 10% of overall revenue for supermarket operators in Britain, but the segment yields higher margins, making the rewards significant. Sainsbury shares have advanced 27% so far this year, Tesco shares have added 19% and Marks & Spencer has seen a 36% jump in its share price.

“The supermarkets see premium food as a major opportunity. It’s critical to their profit,” said Allegra’s Young.

The upscale move is also creating room for small upscale producers:

Sales for organic chocolate maker Green and Black’s, purchased by Cadbury Schweppes last year, grew a staggering 49% in 2005. Making chocolate since 1991, and originally distributed at an outdoor stand in edgy Portobello Market, in West London, Green and Black’s is now available at major supermarkets.

In the beverage category, Innocent drinks, which was launched in 1999 and uses only crushed fruit and natural ingredients, racked up sales of 75 million pounds this year. It went from selling 20 fruit smoothies on its first day from a stand at a small music festival in London to current volumes of one million smoothies a week.

Mintel forecasts that the smaller brands, whose size inspires the idea of exclusivity, will continue to flourish as restaurants and the retailers embrace their eats.

Just yesterday we highlighted the new concept stores for both Whole Foods and HEB’s Central Market and a little earlier we wrestled with Wal-Mart’s efforts to go upscale.

Could it be that the great bonds of English Speaking People will run through the contemporary upscale retailer?

Jamba Juice’s Stand-up Attitude
Out-Shines Lysteria Problem

An excellent contrast to the odd way Taco Bell has been handling its E. coli problem is the more exemplary way that Jamba Juice has been handling its problem regarding frozen strawberries.

First, right on the front page of its website it has a notice

Jamba Juice Issues

Alert Regarding

Stawberry Smoothies


This means that the average consumer who doesn’t think to navigate to “press releases” knows where to go to find information. They are not hiding from the truth.

Then, when you click on the link, you are taken to a page that lays it all out, including supplier names and is signed by the CEO of the company, a Mr. Paul Clayton. I don’t know him, but I like him already. The page is set up as a link so it can be easily printed, e-mailed to loved ones, etc. Here is what Paul Clayton says:

As you may have heard, over the last few days we received some very upsetting news. We discovered that one of our suppliers — Cleugh’s Frozen Foods Inc. — shipped frozen strawberries to us that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially harmful bacteria.

We moved immediately to verify if shipments of the product had left the distribution center and we launched a safety audit to determine if any of the frozen strawberries in question were in our stores. Most of the identified shipments were recovered before they were ever unpacked, however some of the contaminated strawberries may have been used in a limited number of stores in Southern California, Arizona and Southern Nevada.

We have notified the US Food and Drug Administration and are in the process of notifying state and local health officials to make sure the public is safe. In addition, we have halted all shipments from the plant where the Listeria was found until we are completely convinced that their products are safe and processed in a manner consistent with our high standards. To provide greater assurance to our customers and ourselves, we completed additional cleaning and sanitized every store that received shipments from our supplier’s affected location.

I can assure you, the health and well-being of our customers and Jamba Juice team members are our highest priority. Serving safe and wholesome products is the very foundation of our company — and we will do whatever it takes to identify and correct any problems. We want our customers to know that they can rely on Jamba Juice to deliver products that meet the highest safety standards.

While I am relieved to say that no problems have been reported to date, any customer that has purchased a strawberry smoothie in one of the identified stores between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, 2006 and has developed cold or flu-like symptoms should call the Jamba Juice consumer help line at 1-877-464-5689 or consult their healthcare provider. This is especially true for those most at risk — pregnant women, infants, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.

If there are any questions — about which store you visited, our products or the reimbursement program — please call our consumer help line (1-877-464-5689). We’ve added staff to assist with calls. More information can also be found in the FDA press release.

All of us at Jamba Juice want to thank you for your continued support and loyalty. It is your trust in Jamba Juice that has made us the brand we are today. We look forward to building on that trust now and in the future.

— Paul Clayton
Jamba Juice

A Pundit cheer for a stand-up attitude at Jamba Juice and some real sympathy for a town that just can’t get a break. The frozen strawberries implicated in this outbreak were supplied by Cleugh’s Frozen Foods, which recalled all the product. Cleugh’s is based in, you guessed it, Salinas, California.

Pundit’s Mailbag —
Trapping Stations And Food Safety Costs

Our article, FMI Meeting On Food Safety: More Questions To Be Answered, sought to find the substantial issues raised by a retailer’s take on the meeting. One of the issues was that of increased costs. Here is what we wrote:

The constant reiteration by grower groups that retailers (read as the consumer) must be prepared to pay higher prices for food safety is not necessarily true and is really not the point.

Then we heard from the scion of a well known, long-established, farming family:

Let me point just one increased cost out to you: “Trapping Stations.”

Some processors are requiring trapping stations every 50 ft. for rodents. I grow 7,500 acres of vegetables. This would equal approximately 16,000 stations. So, 16,000 stations X $30 = $480,000. This isn’t a one-time cost. Now the stations need to be monitored 2X/week, and logged. I ask you, Mr. Pundit, how many people do you think that will take? I’m pretty sure that will be more than one person!

In summation, “trapping stations” alone would increase my costs by $100 / acre, representing a $.015/pound increase on items like spinach and spring mix. A minimum of $.125/carton on other items. I am not even mentioning any other costs at this point!

— Jack Vessey
Vice President/Marketing Director

Vessey & Company

The name Vessey brings back a lot of memories to the Pundit. My family sold Vessey’s garlic out of Hunts Point for many years, and we exported it around the world. So when we read Jack’s letter, we remember the family and we really feel the pain.

We give a special Pundit thanks to Jack because his real-life example is precisely what is needed in these discussions.

In speaking to some of the “experts” advising the various food safety initiatives, you quickly become aware that expertise in this area is a peculiar thing.

To use Jack’s example, traps every 50 feet are just a number. You could have traps every 40 feet, and be a little more effective or every 60 feet and be a little less effective. The real reason for 50 is probably because we have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot so in our species-centric perspective; fifty seems like a nice round number.

It is not as if traps every 50 feet guarantee against a food safety outbreak — even one caused by rodents.

Nor is it that a scientific cost/benefit analysis determined that the cost of food safety expenses outweigh the food safety benefit at 51 feet.

The real problem is that there is no standard because there is no science.

There is no science because nobody is willing to step up to the plate and say that any foodborne illness is acceptable. If no level of contamination is acceptable, but we are not prepared to demand a “kill step” such as irradiation on all product, then each time there is an outbreak, the outbreak serves ipso facto to prove we are doing an insufficient job and so the standard will get raised.

In Jack’s example, if a rodent were found to cause a foodborne illness outbreak and the field had trapping stations 50 feet apart, the processors would, henceforth, demand trapping stations 25 feet apart.

Now to the financial implications:

Barring mandatory regulation, there are three ways this could go. Two will work out fine for Vessey; the third is the catastrophe all good growers are fearing.


Under this scenario, a processor who wants particular standards goes and contracts with Vessey & Company for exactly what it wants. The processor will now know exactly where its product is growing, it will dictate the standards, and it will pay for them. It may have to guarantee a long enough contract to amortize certain investments or it may finance those investments itself. This works out fine for Vessey as any additional costs are paid by the buyer who wants these services.


This scenario calls for a buyer to enunciate a standard… and stick to it. So in Jack’s example, it means a buyer declares they need trapping stations every 50 feet or they won’t buy the product. This would probably work out well for producers. These buyers are intentionally putting themselves into a severely constricted supply chain. In all likelihood, they will wind up paying enough to justify the food safety demands they may make.


Now suppose a buyer demands Jack’s 50-foot trapping standard — but in mid-season, the severely constrained supply chain is offering product at $2 a box higher price than conventional product. The buyer, unwilling to pay the premium, abandons the standard, which is not legally required and buys conventional product. Now the grower is stuck with substantial food safety investments on which he can make zero return.

The Pundit’s sense of where this has to go is to the Perfectly Aligned Supply Chain. The Rigid Food Safety Standard puts both buyer and grower at too much risk. The buyer, functioning with so few options, may find itself completely non-competitive and the grower always runs the risk of buyers abandoning standards.

Also it is, to Jack’s point, too easy to dictate standards if you aren’t directly paying them. In a fully aligned supply chain, the idea of traps comes up and the teams work together to figure it out. When it is pointed out that a 50-foot standard will cost .125 cents per carton, that 100-foot standard will get looked at closely. How do we quantify the safety benefit of the closer traps? Could we gain safety in another way? The aligned supply chain model turns buyer and grower into allies looking for agreed outcomes, such as safe food and reduced costs.

Food Safety efforts will have costs, but outbreaks have big costs as well. Aligned supply chains should be a tool by which we can both look for routes to safety and to cost reduction.

You can’t blame Jack for being skeptical. There’s been too many years of too many buyers talking the talk on partnership but never really walking the walk.

It is happening every day, right now, as we discussed here.

Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative Recap XIV

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 Efforton 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 Groupand 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.”

On November 28, 2006, we published Words From Buyers Who Did Not Sign The Food Safety Initiative, and in this piece we added Mark Hilton, Vice President of Produce and Floral for Harris-Teeter, based in Matthews, North Carolina, as a signatory to the letter.

We also quoted buyers who had declined to sign the letter mostly due to their objection to the public nature of the initiative. We also pointed out how vendors were thinking:

Pundit Note: Many growers and shippers are irate over the effort as they see it as an evasion of responsibility. These buying organizations get exactly what they value enough to pay for. All too often, some of the same companies who signed the letter on Monday will, on Tuesday, buy some product without the slightest knowledge of where it came from.

On November 29, 2006, we ran Another Naysayer of Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative, which gave voice to the thoughts of some non-participating buyers that only mandatory government regulation is the way to go. Also on November 29, 2006, we published Pundit’s Mailbag — Buyers Lecturing Again, in which a processor there at the beginning of the national fresh-cut industry reminded us how uninterested in food safety most retailers were at the time.

On November 30, 2006, we continued our exploration of why some buyers were declining to join the buyer-led initiative with Self-Interests Play Role In Food Safety Initiatives. Also on November 30, 2006, we received a letter from Al Zuckerman of ProMark Group, which we focused on in Pundit’s Mailbag — Pundit Logic On Food Safety Regulation. We pointed out: “In terms of the difficulties on spinach and leafy greens, the key buyers are missing from the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative. The buyers of the produce, in this case, are the processors.”

On December 1, 2006, we published Spinach And The Consequences Of Buyers’ Action, in which buyers who hadn’t signed on to the buyer-led food safety initiative pointed out that rigorous food safety systems will restrict supply and raise prices.

As we explained: “It is unknown if those who don’t buy spinach because of high prices will buy healthy alternatives. They may buy candy bars and die of complications of obesity. It is a completely open question as to whether safer spinach won’t cost lives in the end.”

Also on December 1, 2006, we responded to industry feedback claiming that foodservice did a better job than retail when it came to food safety by beginning a series of Pundit Pulses focused on foodservice. The first two, Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Del Taco’s Janet Erickson and Notre Dame’s Dan Crimmins, dealt with how smaller buyers deal with these issues.

On December 5, 2006, we continued our discussion with buyers who refused to sign the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative by noting that some of them weren’t thrilled with the Western Growers Association proposal either. Our Piece Is WGA’s Food Safety Proposal Up To The Job?dealt with the problems created for the industry when one region is declared “safer” than another and with the difficulty of utilizing a marketing order to legislate world class food safety practices.

On December 6, 2006, we ran Nine Days To B-Day (The Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative Deadline), which dealt with what will happen if the trade associations do not meet the deadline set by the buyers. Also on December 6, 2006, we continued our series on foodservice and food safety by running Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Michael Spinazzola Of Diversified Restaurant Systems.

Additionally on December 6, 2006, we ran a letter from Tim O’Conner, President & CEO of the United States Potato Board in our Pundit’s Mailbag — Buying Safe Food In A Changing Worldin which Tim explained: “Given my experience with government inspection and regulation, I place much more value on a supply chain-led initiative to deliver meaningful long term results.”

On December 7, 2006, we ran FMI Meeting On Food Safety: More Questions To Be Answered, which looked at the contribution of FMI’s effort to play a role in preventing a future leafy green crisis

Botulism And Carrot Juice Summary XXXII

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.

Pundit Rewind XLII

The Pundit originally ran the Pundit Rewind on September 21, 2006. We continuously update it in order to keep everyone organized with respect to reference material on this subject; we have updated it with new items and run it again today.

Spinach Crisis Summary

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 Confidence that 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.

October 18, 2006 the Pundit ran a piece in which PulseNet Explains Why It Doesn’t Work Weekends. You can find the piece here.

On October 19, 2006, the piece Pundit’s Mailbag — Greenhouses and Vertical Farmingexplores the potential of greenhouse and hydroponic growing in the light of the spinach/E. coli crisis. The article also explores the potential for vertical farms in urban neighborhoods. Read it here.

On October 24, 2006, we published Town Hall Spinach Meeting: Unanswered Questions, in which we analyzed what we learned and what was still a mystery after attending a Town Hall Meeting on the spinach crisis at the PMA Convention in San Diego. You can find this piece here.

October 27, 2006, we ran a piece entitled PMA Commits $1 Million To Food Safety Fixes and you can read it here. Also on October 27, 2006, we thought part of the fallout from the crisis would be a reexamination of the industry’s government relations efforts and so wrote PMA/United Merger Fresh On Our Minds. You can read it right here. Additionally on October 27, 2006, we ran Pundit’s Mailbag — Greenhouse Solutions dealing with whether Controlled Environment Agriculture might be the solution to the trade’s food safety issues. Read it right here.

On October 30, 2006, we responded to a very important proposal from several leading members of the buying community with Buyer-Led Food Safety Effort Leaves Open Question of Buyer Commitment. You can read the piece here. After the government announced that it was looking at wild pigs as the culprit in the E. coli contamination, we ran, on October 30, 2006, a piece entitled Now We Know Why Spinach Salad Is Served With Bacon Dressing. Read it right here.

On October 31, 2006, we published Western Growers Association Calls For Mandatory Food Safety Standards, in which we discussed the epochal change taking place as the industry looked to move to mandatory, as opposed to voluntary, food safety standards. You can read it right here.

November 2, 2006, we published Opportunity For Buyer’s Food Safety Initiative, which raised the idea that not involving growers in setting food safety standards was a good idea. Read it here.

On November 7, 2006, we ran a piece entitled NRA Forms Produce Safety Working Group that discussed a new National Restaurant Association initiative to impose standards on suppliers to foodservice. You can find the piece here. Also on November 7, 2006, we published Pundit’s Mailbag — United’s President/CEO Responds (Part 2), which dealt with the question of how much difference a good government relations program can be expected to accomplish at a time of crisis. Read it here.

November 8, 2006, we ran a valuable Pundit’s Mailbag — Insights From A Conscientious Growerthat focused on the value buyers can bring to food safety programs. You can read it here.

On November 10, 2006, we published FMI Steps Into Food Safety Fray, which details the role a food safety conference FMI is organizing might play in helping the industry develop new food safety protocols. You can find the piece here.

November 14, 2006, we ran Pundit’s Mailbag — Grower/Shipper Calls Buyer-Led Food Safety Initiative Hollow Call To Action, in which a respected grower pointed out that growers needed retailers to walk the walk not talk the talk. Read it here.

On November 15, 2006 we published PulseNet, And The Pundit, In The News, which linked to a TV station that picked up on our reporting on ways to improve PulseNet. Read it here. Also on November 15, 2006, we published Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Westborn Markets, Schnucks, Wal-Mart, in which these retailers updated us on how the market for spinach and bagged salads is recovering. You can find the piece here.

November 16, 2006, we had a piece entitled Pundit’s Mailbag — Kill Steps And Irradiation that dealt with the industry concern that no matter how we strengthen our agricultural practices, only a “kill step” can really solve the problem. Read it here.

On November 17, 2006, we published GAPs/GMPs And HACCP Plans, in which United Fresh President/CEO Tom Stenzel gives his take on what happened during the spinach crisis. Read it here. Also on November 17, 2006, we ran Tale Of Two Buyers, which pointed out that culture and compensation may matter more than intent when it comes to food safety. Find it right here.

November 21, 2006, we ran Tim York Takes Leadership Role In Food Safety Crisis, which updated us on the progress of the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative. Read it here.

On November 22, 2006 we presented The Perishable Pundit’s Unsung Heroes Awardto Hank Giclas of Western Growers Association, David Gombas and Jim Gorny, both of United Fresh Produce Association. Read all about it right here. Also on November 22, 2006 we reported the explosive news that the whole consumer advisory not to eat spinach might have been avoided had certain processors cooperated with the FDA. The piece is called Spinach Farmers Won’t Be Thanking Certain Processors This Holidayand you can read it here. Additionally, on November 22, 2006 we explained that restricting product usage could reduce the impact of future outbreaks. The article is called If You Are Eating Out For Thanksgiving… and you can find it here.

November 28, 2006 we published Words From Buyers Who Did Not Sign The Food Safety Initiative that explained one objection to the way the initiative was being handled. Read the piece here. Also on November 28, 2006, we wrote Don’t Forget The Regional Spinach Processors, which showed how Aunt Mid’s Produce Company in Detroit, Michigan, was communicating with its customers. Catch it here.

On November 29, 2006, we ran a piece called Another Naysayer of Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative that focused on the thoughts of some buyers that only mandatory government regulation would help the industry. Read it right here.

On November 30, 2006, we published Self-Interests Play Role In Food Safety Initiatives, a piece that continued our series on why some buyers don’t wish to sign on to the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative. You can find the article here.

On December 1, 2006, we continued our exploration of why some buyers elected not to sign on to the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative with Spinach And The Consequence Of Buyers’ Actions, a piece that looked at how food safety might impact prices and public health. Read it here.

Also on December 1, 2006, we published Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Del Taco’s Janet Erickson and Notre Dame’s Dan Crimmins, which explored how smaller foodservice operators were looking at food safety. Catch it right here.

Additionally on December 1, 2006, we ran Pundit’s Mailbag — Sprout Lessons Echo Food Safety Dilemma, which pointed out what the broader produce industry can learn from the food safety woes of the sprout industry. You can find the piece here.

On December 5, 2006, we asked Is WGA’s Food Safety Proposal Up To The Job?This piece discussed both the difficulties of setting different food safety standards in different regions and the difficulty of establishing food safety standards through a marketing order. Read it here.

On December 6, 2006, we ran Nine Days To B-Day (The Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative Deadline), which dealt with what will happen if the trade associations do not meet the deadline set by the buyers. Read the piece here. Also on December 6, 2006, we continued our series on foodservice and food safety by running Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Michael Spinazzola Of Diversified Restaurant Systems, and you can find this article here.

Additionally on December 6, 2006 we ran a letter from Tim O’Conner, President & CEO of the United States Potato Board in our Pundit’s Mailbag — Buying Safe Food In A Changing World, catch this piece right here

On December 7, 2006, we ran FMI Meeting On Food Safety: More Questions To Be Answered, which looked, from a retailer’s point of view, at the contribution of FMI’s effort to play a role in preventing a future leafy green crisis. Read it right 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. Find it here.

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.

October 18, 2006, we had a Pundit’s Mailbag — Thermometers In Refrigerators, in which the Pundit was challenged for urging excessive governmental interference. You can find it right here.

October 20, 2006, we had two pieces related to the Nunes recall on Green Leaf lettuce. First, in a piece entitled Closure For Nunes, we detailed that the product had been declared clean by the FDA. You can read it here. Second, we had a piece entitled Partial Closure In Mexico, which explained that Mexico had decided to allow the import of U.S. lettuce but not spinach. You can find the piece right here.

On November 1, 2006, we ran a piece entitled Canada Opens Door To More, But Not All, US Spinach. You can read it right here. Also on November 1, 2006, we had an interesting Pundit’s Mailbag — The Acceptance Of Risk, which included a fascinating comparison on how the FAA views safety in airlines as opposed to the FDA looking at food. Read it here.

November 3, 2006, we published Food Safety And Why The Problem Will Only Get Worse…Or Won’t, which dealt with the way enhanced detection technology is likely to increase reports of foodborne illness — even as the food supply gets safer. Read it here. Also on November 3, 2006 we ran a brief note entitled Broader Concern For Food Safety, which linked to an FDA-produced slide show on the spinach outbreak as part of a broader food safety perspective. You can catch it right here.

Additionally on November 3, 2006, we ran Pundit’s Mailbag — CPMA’s President Sets The Record Straight, in which CPMA’s President Dan Dempster addressed the importance of communication between the public health authorities in the U.S. and in Canada. Find the piece right here.

On November 7, 2006, we ran FDA Focuses On Retail And Foodservice Food Safety which gave news of an FDA satellite broadcast for retailers and foodservice operators and addressed the general issue of buyers and food safety. Read it here. Also on November 7, 2006, we ran an Erratum correcting some calculations in our previous piece Food Safety And Why The Problem Will Only Get Worse…Or Won’t. You can find it right here.

November 9, 2006, we published Pundit’s Pulse of the Industry: Bigg’s Marvin Lyons, the first of a series of retail interviews looking at how sales at retail are going post-spinach crisis. Read it here. Also on November 9, 2006, we ran Pundit’s Mailbag — Sticking Up for the Pundit, in which an industry leader wrote in to support the work of the Pundit. You can find the piece here.

On November 10, 2006, we highlighted a quick directory of Farm-to-Fork Food Safety Resources. Catch it here.

November 21, 2006 we ran Capitol Report: United Helps Coordinate ‘Spinach Fest’ which focused on an event in D.C. reintroducing spinach to consumers. Read it here. Also on November 21, 2006 we published Pundit’s Mailbag — Woeful Costco Experience, which detailed the difficulty of getting accurate information down to store level personnel. You can find the piece here.

On November 22, 2006 we published Pundit’s Mailbag — Thankfulness in which Harris Cutler of Race-West Company offered a common sense perspective on food safety. Read it here.

November 29, 2006 featured Pundit’s Mailbag — Buyers Lecturing Again, which reminded us that retailers weren’t always focused on consumers or safety in the early years of the national fresh-cut industry. You can find the piece right here.

On November 30, 2006, we published What’s In A Name, recognizing the birth date of Theodor Escherich, for whom the genus Escherichia of which Escherichia coli is the most common member. Read it here.

Also on November 30, 2006, we published Pundit’s Mailbag — Pundit Logic On Food Safety Regulations, which dealt with a letter from Al Zuckerman of ProMark Group trying to find a reasonable proposal on food safety. Catch it here.

On December 1, 2006, we ran Speaking Of Produce Washes, which revealed a study that found that washes and water are all about the same. 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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