PMA And United Fresh Respond To Riskiest Foods List

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) earlier this week released a list of the Top 10 Riskiest Foods, with leafy greens topping the list. Also in the top 10 were potatoes, tomatoes, sprouts, and berries.

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In response, United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) issued a joint statement that urges CSPI to clarify inaccuracies in the report. The letter was authored by United Fresh president and CEO Tom Stenzel and PMA president and CEO Bryan Silbermann, who expressed concerns that the list could discourage Americans from eating fruits and vegetables.

“As you know,” the letter states, “… the produce industry is committed to ensuring the fresh fruits and vegetables we produce provide consumers with a safe and healthy eating experience every bite, every time.”

The letter focused on industry-wide initiatives that are working to improve food safety accountability, including PMA’s and United’s involvement in the Partnership for Food Safety Education, as well as their call for mandated regulation to ensure food safety.

“By focusing your ‘Top Ten’ release solely on the food products listed, you are presenting a misleading picture to the American public,” the letter states. “As you well know, food handling is often the cause of such outbreaks. And while you do provide some clarification in the full report, the reality is that most consumers and reporters will not go to the website for more complete information.”

The list is as follows:

  • Leafy greens: 363 outbreaks involving 13,568 reported cases of illness.
  • Eggs: 352 outbreaks with 11,163 reported cases of illness.
  • Tuna: 268 outbreaks with 2,341 reported cases of illness.
  • Oysters: 132 outbreaks with 3,409 reported cases of illness.
  • Potatoes: 108 outbreaks with 3,659 reported cases of illness.
  • Cheese: 83 outbreaks with 2,761 reported cases of illness.
  • Ice Cream: 74 outbreaks with 2,594 reported cases of illness.
  • Tomatoes: 31 outbreaks with 3,292 reported cases of illness.
  • Sprouts: 31 outbreaks with 2,022 reported cases of illness.
  • Berries: 25 outbreaks with 3,397 reported cases of illness.

To see the letter from United Fresh and PMA in its entirety, click here.

Leave a Reply

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Producers, packers and retailers have a responsibility to food safety the same way any industry is responsible for not killing anyone with their products. Consumers should be free to buy and consume food without serious risk to their health. Science in the Public Interest needs to consider a better use of its talents than to scare the public out of the marketplace. I would expect the agriculture industry to come down hard on Science in the Public Interest.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The one who produces the healthiest and freshest product on the market will bare the brunt of the regulations. The small farmer can’t afford the no-sweat insurance nor high priced lawyers so that all alligations will ultimatly decend upon him,putting him out of business and taking his land to pay frivelous law suits. Instead of the blame game,let’s use our AG colleges and foundations to educate our suppliers of fresh produce on proper planting, harvesting and processing techniques. And let’s educate the general public on how to prepare these cronic products for safe consumption. Inspectors can’t inspect every item and it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I find education is sorely lacking in this field. Small farmers know there are certain foods that need special care, but does the consumer? I think going home with every person from the fresh foods aisle and teaching them to wash their hands, to not cross contaminate meat and vegetable products, raw and cooked products would be a great thing; but that is not realistic. Why doesn’t the media start EDUCATING and stop harassing?
I was substituting at the Junior High School today and on the staff room lunch table a cut cantaloupe was sitting out. It had been shared on a prep break and left un-iced, to be passed around again to the instructors at lunch break. Half the school is out with N1H1 or colds. I watched as teachers filed in and no one washed their hands before they ate. So is the melon farmer responsible for staff illness? They all carefully covered their sneezes and coughs with their bare hands. Maybe we should have the Center for Science in the Public Interest list the riskiest thing to have happen to a persons health is to model the behavior of a Junior High teacher.
Personally I’ll risk a fresh leafy green vegetable any day!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

To make these kinds of accusations is entirely unfair to the agriculture industry. CSPI couldn’t have released this list at a worse time for the tomato industry. This will hurt our market, whether that was their intention or not. We are still in recovery from the salmonella scares of the past years and can’t afford another setback.
The farms and facilities that are doing their part in food safety cannot be held accountable for what happens to the produce once it leaves the packing houses or processing plants. Contamination can happen anywhere in-between departure and consumption. It is entirely ridiculous to generalize such a statement. Take a closer look at WHO is doing the right thing and who is not. It is our opinion that these reports have resulted in a decline in consumer confidence as well as less consumption by the general public.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Producers, packers and retailers have a responsibility to food safety the same way any industry is responsible for not killing anyone with their products. Consumers should be free to buy and consume food without serious risk to their health. Science in the Public Interest needs to consider a better use of its talents than to scare the public out of the marketplace. I would expect the agriculture industry to come down hard on Science in the Public Interest.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The one who produces the healthiest and freshest product on the market will bare the brunt of the regulations. The small farmer can’t afford the no-sweat insurance nor high priced lawyers so that all alligations will ultimatly decend upon him,putting him out of business and taking his land to pay frivelous law suits. Instead of the blame game,let’s use our AG colleges and foundations to educate our suppliers of fresh produce on proper planting, harvesting and processing techniques. And let’s educate the general public on how to prepare these cronic products for safe consumption. Inspectors can’t inspect every item and it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I find education is sorely lacking in this field. Small farmers know there are certain foods that need special care, but does the consumer? I think going home with every person from the fresh foods aisle and teaching them to wash their hands, to not cross contaminate meat and vegetable products, raw and cooked products would be a great thing; but that is not realistic. Why doesn’t the media start EDUCATING and stop harassing?
I was substituting at the Junior High School today and on the staff room lunch table a cut cantaloupe was sitting out. It had been shared on a prep break and left un-iced, to be passed around again to the instructors at lunch break. Half the school is out with N1H1 or colds. I watched as teachers filed in and no one washed their hands before they ate. So is the melon farmer responsible for staff illness? They all carefully covered their sneezes and coughs with their bare hands. Maybe we should have the Center for Science in the Public Interest list the riskiest thing to have happen to a persons health is to model the behavior of a Junior High teacher.
Personally I’ll risk a fresh leafy green vegetable any day!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

To make these kinds of accusations is entirely unfair to the agriculture industry. CSPI couldn’t have released this list at a worse time for the tomato industry. This will hurt our market, whether that was their intention or not. We are still in recovery from the salmonella scares of the past years and can’t afford another setback.
The farms and facilities that are doing their part in food safety cannot be held accountable for what happens to the produce once it leaves the packing houses or processing plants. Contamination can happen anywhere in-between departure and consumption. It is entirely ridiculous to generalize such a statement. Take a closer look at WHO is doing the right thing and who is not. It is our opinion that these reports have resulted in a decline in consumer confidence as well as less consumption by the general public.