Usually if you're buying a berry smoothie or grabbing a salad to go, you don't stop and ask where the produce was grown, or what kind of safety measures are in place at the farm. But it seems like more and more outbreaks — from tainted spinach to parasite-infested bagged salad — are hitting states across the nation.
[Erik Nicholson of the EFI] said that at a typical farm, if the harvesting crew sees deer droppings in the field, they would probably continue harvesting because they’re paid by the amount they pick. They also know that management would frown on leaving fruit in the field.
Under EFI, workers are trained to call a supervisor in this situation. Any berries picked in that vicinity would be destroyed and the area would be cordoned off until the deer droppings were removed and the risk of contamination was eliminated.
The problem, of course, is that the current system "generally rewards speed and volume," so workers might not feel that they should stop. Still, at least one grower is taking part in the EFI program, resulting in "Limited Edition" strawberries, sold at Costco. Whether other growers will sign on — when it's not a government requirement, and there's already "tremendous" oversight by regulatory bodies — remains to be seen. And the most recent food poisoning issue — those parasite salads — came from greens grown in Mexico, not in the U.S. But as Erin Farley of A&W, the grower of the limited edition strawberries, says: "Change takes brave people to step forward."
Image by Shulevskyy Volodymyr/Shutterstock.