Opinion: Growers Must Be On The Cutting Edge Of Food Safety

Rosemary GordonLike you, I felt ill when I learned that the Jensen brothers were to be charged criminally with misdemeanors. Like you, I know that these growers — like all growers — certainly never wanted anyone to become sick from eating their fresh produce.

It happened, though. Cantaloupe tainted with Listeria entered the marketplace from Colorado-based Jensen Farms in 2011. Later that year FDA determined that it was the Jensens’ cantaloupe that caused more than 140 people to get sick and 33 people to die.

While attending the United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference in October, which took place the week after the news about the Jensens broke, I had an opportunity to ask some of the attendees their thoughts on the matter. Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, said: “It raises awareness in the industry on what federal prosecutors can do under FDA law.”

To date, however, there have been not been many criminal charges involving contaminated food. In fact, food safety lawyer Bill Marler told me he has seen very few prosecutions in the last 20 years, but in the Jensens’ case, 33 people died and that simply could not be ignored by the U.S. Attorneys office.

Should all of the responsibility fall on the shoulders of the grower? Marler said the entire chain has some culpability.

He is right. More than the Jensen brothers were involved, and no matter how you feel about the criminal charges being brought against them in the first place and the dangerous precendent being set as a result, the responsibility should be shared. (Meister’s Content Director Jim Sulecki offers his take on the situation at http://bit.ly/19afhm4.)

The “sharing” may be coming as the Jensens now plan to sue the auditor involved. In the end, though, none of this will help growers in their efforts to be on the cutting edge of food safety, which is where they need to be.

As the fallout from the Jensen case has been extensively covered on our website, GrowingProduce.com, many comments have been made, with one saying the result “will be the demise of all fruit and vegetable farming.” That’s the last thing that should happen.

Our goal is to keep you informed on what is transpiring surrounding this case — and what it means for you — as well as provide you with the information you need to move forward in the area of food safety. American Vegetable Grower and sister publications, American Fruit Grower and Florida Grower want to make it very clear when a food safety topic is the focus of an article in a magazine, online, or in one of our eNewsletters. The new Food Safety icon, shown above, is designed to do just that. You will know at a glance what topic the article is discussing.

After all, the world needs you to continue providing nutritious produce. Our health depends on it.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Cucurbits Stories
Belmont watermelon from Sakata
Cucurbits
October 27, 2016
9 Melon Varieties To Keep In Mind
View some of the latest watermelon and cantaloupe varieties making an impact on the market. Read More
This worker is in the process of grafting watermelon. 
Photo credit: Tri-Histil
Crop Protection
October 25, 2016
Vegetable Grafting Facility Gears Up For Increased Production
The Tri-Hishtil vegetable grafting facility in North Carolina hopes to double grafted plant production by next year. Read More
Adult whitefly is feeding on a tomato leaf. Photo credit: Saioa Legarrea, University of Georgia.
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
Georgia Whitefly Populations Explode, Troubling Vegetable Growers
Researcher says growers must be up-to-date on spray programs. Read More
CBP officers working at the Otay Mesa cargo
port of entry Oct. 2 discovered almost
3,100 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a shipment of cucumbers.
Photo courtesy of  U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
3,100 Pounds Of Marijuana Hidden In Cucumbers Confiscated
U.S. Customs and Border Protection made the discovery at the Otay Mesa cargo port in California. Read More
The striped cucumber beetle is a vector of the bacterial wilt pathogen.     
Photo credit: Gerald Holmes
Crop Protection
October 3, 2016
Take Control Of Cucumber Beetles
Tactics to manage the pest of cucurbits include proper scouting, trap cropping, plus cultural and chemical controls. Read More
34-749-rz
Cucurbits
September 25, 2016
10 Cantaloupe And Melon Varieties You Need To Know
Browse this slideshow for more information on 10 cantaloupe and melon varieties you need to know about from the nation’s leading Read More
white grubs
Cucurbits
September 21, 2016
Don’t Let White Grubs Gobble Up Your Vegetable Crop
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this pest. Read More
The Latest
Crop Protection
November 30, 2016
The Effect Of Soil Fertility On Fusarium…
Ongoing research sheds light on the role soil health plays in the severity of the deadly pathogen. Read More
Crop Protection
November 8, 2016
The Effect Of Soil Fertility On Fusarium…
Ongoing research sheds light on the role soil health plays in the severity of the deadly pathogen in watermelon crops. Read More
Cucurbits
October 31, 2016
7 Squash And Cucumber Cultivars To Consi…
Get the lowdown on several of the latest varieties making a name for themselves in the marketplace. Read More
Cucurbits
October 27, 2016
9 Melon Varieties To Keep In Mind
View some of the latest watermelon and cantaloupe varieties making an impact on the market. Read More
Crop Protection
October 25, 2016
Vegetable Grafting Facility Gears Up For…
The Tri-Hishtil vegetable grafting facility in North Carolina hopes to double grafted plant production by next year. Read More
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
Georgia Whitefly Populations Explode, Tr…
Researcher says growers must be up-to-date on spray programs. Read More
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
3,100 Pounds Of Marijuana Hidden In Cucu…
U.S. Customs and Border Protection made the discovery at the Otay Mesa cargo port in California. Read More
Crop Protection
October 3, 2016
Take Control Of Cucumber Beetles
Tactics to manage the pest of cucurbits include proper scouting, trap cropping, plus cultural and chemical controls. Read More
Cucurbits
September 25, 2016
10 Cantaloupe And Melon Varieties You Ne…
Browse this slideshow for more information on 10 cantaloupe and melon varieties you need to know about from the nation’s leading Read More
Cucurbits
September 21, 2016
Don’t Let White Grubs Gobble Up Yo…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this pest. Read More
Crop Protection
September 6, 2016
Purdue Entomologist Receives USDA Grant …
The goal of the research team is to help growers of cucurbits achieve effective pest control while protecting honeybees and other beneficial pollinating insects. Read More
Cucurbits
July 22, 2016
California Cantaloupe Growers To Celebra…
The Golden State’s cantaloupes are now in peak production from major areas in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
Cucurbits
July 21, 2016
Study Shows Buckwheat Can Help Stifle Sq…
Unique cover crop choice attracts beneficial bugs, increasing pollination prospects and reducing insect threats. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirme…
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. Read More
Cucurbits
July 18, 2016
21 Pumpkin Varieties You Need To Know
Leading seed breeders and distributors highlight some of the latest pumpkin varieties available.   Read More
Cucurbits
June 14, 2016
Worry Spreading In Florida Over Exotic W…
UF/IFAS expert warns species likely to cause problems for growers. Read More
Cucurbits
June 2, 2016
23 Top-Notch Watermelon Varieties
Take a look at this slideshow for more details on watermelon varieties from the nation’s leading seed breeders and distributors. Read More
Cucurbits
May 25, 2016
Whitefly Threat Has Florida Growers On H…
Researchers, state agencies working together to prevent a potential outbreak. Read More