“…growers of fresh produce cannot ensure that their harvests will be completely safe all the time.”

June 1, 2011

Europe’s Food Poisoning Outbreak: Reaping What it has Sown

Henry Miller

Miller_june_1

Great post by the outspoken – but always interesting – Henry Miller on the recent e. coli outbreak in the EU…

As Miller correctly states: “…growers of fresh produce cannot ensure that their harvests will be completely safe all the time.”

Miller refers to the 2006 spinach outbreak and suggests that we must temper our faith in processor labels like “triple washed” or “ready to eat”.  According to Miller, there are technologies available that may not completely obliterate chances of contamination but they can most certainly reduce the incidences.  Technologies such as irradiation are very effective but, for the most part, have been largely underused due to the organic food lobby and overregulation by government.  

“Because agriculture is an outdoor activity and subject to all manner of unpredictable challenges, there are limits to how safe we can make it.  If the goal is to make a cultivated field completely safe from microbial contamination, the only definitive solution is to pave it over and build a parking lot on it.  But we’d only be trading very rare agricultural mishaps for fender-benders.”

As consumers, we have to assume some risk in what we buy and consume. There is no such thing as 100% safe. Adopting technologies to reduce the risk of contamination are important first steps. 

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