I have been watching the recalls year after year due to harmful pathogens in our food supply. Thousands have been sickened and many have died from pathogen introduction and it appears that the FDA is getting better at detecting and tracing the outbreaks within our complex food system. With worldwide populations on the rise and the fact that the USDA reported that approximately 60% of the produce in the U.S. is imported, recalls will become more and more frequent. The FDA and USDA are finding it harder and harder to keep track and enforce Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The need for increased accountability and food safety has never been more important. No one wants to have a loved one become ill or even worse, die from eating “healthy” fruits and vegetables.
On May 25th, Jensen Farms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following a listeria outbreak in Cantaloupe’s. This nationwide outbreak was in 28 states and killed more than 30 people. The bankruptcy filing was in response to the numerous wrongful death lawsuits against Jensen Farms. Is this a sign of the times to come for food companies? Will this filing cause other food company executives to be more vigilant to do everything they can to protect their produce (and company) from unnecessary risk?
Electronic Cold-Pasteurization (ECP) could have been used in combination with GAP to ensure the produce is safe from harmful pathogens without the use of harmful chemicals in post-treatment. ECP uses a highly focused beam of electricity to kill pests, pathogens (such as Listeria), while extending shelf-life in most cases. This technology is approved by the FDA, USDA, etc. and provides a “clean technology” solution. Outbreaks like this should not be occurring in the U.S.