Earthbound Farm, which packaged the spinach responsible for the 2006 E. coli outbreak, has since put in place the industry’s most aggressive testing and safety program. Included is a process of triple-washing foods with a chlorine rinse and pathogen testing at every step of production. In 2008, 0.14 percent of the leafy greens that arrived at Earthbound Farm’s plant tested positive for salmonella or E. coli, and it was destroyed.
Many leafy greens producers have signed onto a California agreement that verifies that growers follow food safety practices. So far nearly 120 members have signed on, representing over 99 percent of the volume of California leafy greens. Recently, the USDA expressed interest in nationalizing the program.
The peanut outbreak has also renewed interested in revamping what food safety experts believe to be an outdated food safety system. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he supports merging the nation's food-safety system, which is currently divided into the US Department of Agriculture and the FDA, into one agency.
Meanwhile, some food safety experts maintain that any tool demonstrated to be safe and effective should be available to protect the public from harmful bacteria. Said Bruhn, “The goal is to protect the public while permitting the consumption of healthful tasty foods.”
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.