Devoted to diligence: That best describes the efforts of stakeholders to minimize the risk of produce contamination by pathogens.
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Explore this issueApril/May 2019
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While the multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with romaine lettuce during fall 2018 was declared over as of Jan. 9, 2019, FDA—along with CDC, and state and local agencies—continues its investigation into the potential source of the pathogen connected with the outbreak. And FDA continues to recommend to suppliers and distributors that romaine lettuce be labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date or labeled as being hydroponically or greenhouse grown.
Produce industry partners are definitely devoted to minimizing the possibility of future pathogen contamination associated with their products, says Jennifer McEntire, PhD, vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C. “We continue to work with a wide variety of stakeholders to determine measures to minimizes the likelihood of contamination, improve traceability throughout the supply chain, gain alignment on consumer-level labeling, and improve the investigative process,” Dr. McEntire relates.
The original association was founded in 1904 to represent the produce industry, and took the name United Fresh as a result of the 2006 merger of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and the International Fresh-Cut Association. United Fresh bills itself as “the industry’s leading trade association committed to driving the growth and success of produce companies and their partners.”
From small family businesses to large international corporations, the United Fresh membership roster boasts produce companies, including grower-shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesaler-distributors, and importers and exporters, along with retail and foodservice operators, industry service providers, industry associations and commodity groups, university researchers, and government officials.
Using data from the last USDA census in 2012, United Fresh estimates the market value share of fresh produce at $57.2 billion annually in the U.S., Dr. McEntire says.
About Linda L. Leake, MS
Linda L. Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, registered SQF contract auditor, and award-winning freelance journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Specializing in agriculture, food, food safety, and travel, her articles have appeared in some 89 print and online publications. Along with garnering awards for her articles and photographs, she holds the prestigious Master Writer status with American Agricultural Editors’ Association. Majoring in Dairy Science, she completed a BS in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Food Safety at Michigan State University. She’s an active member of IAFP, Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., and the National Dairy Shrine. She’s currently enrolled in the International Development Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reach her at Llleake@aol.com.