What about going public? Why produce organizations adopt food safety protocols

We examine theoretically and empirically the factors associated with commodity organizations’ voluntary adoption of stricter food safety guidelines. Our theoretical analysis finds that larger organizations are less likely to require members to invest in food safety procedures due to higher implementation costs.

lettuce.skull.noroRecalls induce organizations to adopt stricter food safety standards only when expected future gains from improved product reputation outweigh the short run costs of implementing those standards. The same logic holds for organizations representing growers of a product with higher demand, e.g., a larger share of fruit and vegetable sales. Organizations whose members have a larger share of the market for their product are more likely to adopt stricter food safety guidelines when that investment induces members to increase output, a necessary condition for which is that members’ current food safety procedures are more protective than the industry average.

Our econometric analysis finds that organizations with more members are less likely to adopt food safety guidelines for their members, as our theoretical analysis predicts. Organizations whose members account for a larger share of the market for their product and organizations for commodities representing larger shares of fruit and vegetable sales are more likely to implement food safety guidelines, consistent with considerations of long term profitability increases due to improved reputation for safety outweighing concerns about increases in cost of production. Organizations that have experienced negative shocks to reputation as measured by the number of Class I FDA recalls are also more likely to adopt food safety guidelines, again consistent with considerations of long term profitability due to improved reputation for safety outweighing concerns about increases in cost of production.

Foodborne illness outbreaks, collective reputation, and voluntary adoption of industrywide food safety protocols by fruit and vegetable growers

AgEcon Search

Aaron Adalja and Erik Lichtenberg



2 dead, 151 sick: UK says stop using imported rocket (lettuce), but not blaming anyone

Continuing in the fairytale theme that purveyors of food have the best interest of consumers at heart, as do taxpayer funded regulators, Public Health England have told a small number of wholesalers to stop using imported rocket leaves in their salad mixes, as investigations into a major E. coli outbreak continue.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145The outbreak had so far claimed two lives, PHE said today, with a total of 151 cases identified, 62 of which required hospital care.

Director of Public Health England, Dr Isabel Oliver, said  “PHE is using various approaches including whole genome sequencing (WGS) technologies to test samples from those affected. WGS technologies are at the forefront of improving the diagnosis of infectious diseases and this testing has indicated that the strain involved is likely to be an imported strain, possibly from the Mediterranean area.

“PHE is also working closely with the Food Standards Agency to trace, sample and test salad products grown in the UK and other parts of Europe.

“All food sample results to date have been negative for E.coli O157, but it’s important to be aware that where food has been contaminated with E.coli O157, it is not always possible to identify the bacteria on food testing.

“As an additional precautionary measure, we have advised a small number of wholesalers to cease adding some imported rocket leaves to their mixed salad products pending further investigations

The UK Food Standards Agency said in the most bureaucratic way possible – with 2 dead and 151 sick – it is continuing to work closely with PHE and local authorities to investigate an outbreak of E.coli O157. The outbreak has been linked to eating mixed salad leaves, including rocket leaves, however a specific food source has not been confirmed at this stage.

As a precaution, the FSA is reminding people of the importance of good hand and food hygiene practices. All vegetables, including salads, intended to be eaten raw should be thoroughly washed unless they are specifically labelled ‘ready to eat’. Investigations are ongoing.

Fail. Nothing about on-farm food safety.


109 sick from E. coli in leafy greens UK: Best advice bureautypes have is wash your hands

This just gets continuinglyly hopeless. More sick people – that’s good to disclose, know it’s uncomfortable for Brits and most Europeans – but telling consumers to wash their hands is stupid.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145Why wouldn’t Public Health England (PHE) or the farm groups involved say, this is what we do to reduce risk, and talk about on-farm food safety efforts?

Instead, they tell consumers to wash their hands.

To date, 109 cases (figure correct as at 4 July 2016) of this strain of E. coli have been identified (102 in England, 6 in Wales and 1 in Scotland) with the South West of England particularly affected.

PHE has been working to establish the cause of the outbreak and has now identified that several of the affected individuals ate mixed salad leaves including rocket leaves prior to becoming unwell. Currently, the source of the outbreak is not confirmed and remains under investigation. PHE is now reminding people to maintain good hygiene and food preparation practices in response to the current outbreak.

Dr Isabel Oliver, director of PHE’s field epidemiology service, said, We continue to stress the importance of good hand and food hygiene practices at all times. We urge people to remove any loose soil before storing vegetables and thoroughly wash all vegetables (including salads) that will be eaten raw unless they have been pre-prepared and are specifically labelled ‘ready to eat’. These measures may reduce the risk of infection from any E.coli contaminated vegetables, fruit and salad but will not eliminate any risk of infection completely. 

84 sick with E. coli O157: Leafy greens cone of silence – English-style

As if the English weren’t taunted enough, an outbreak of E. coli O157 phage type (PT) 34 linked with leafy salad has prompted regulators to remind consumers “about the importance of good hygiene and food preparation practice” and wash their f*cking hands (that pic, right, is what accompanied s300_Handwashing__NHS_MOORFIELDS_308-10056_960x640the PR; I can’t make this shit up).

This has nothing to do with E. coli O157 on leafy greens, and is a further continuation of Scotland’s it’s-a-f*cking pink chicken educational campaign.

Public Health England says it is investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157 which may be associated with eating leafy salad. To date 84 cases (figure correct as at 1 July 2016) of this strain of E. coli have been identified (77 in England, 5 in Wales, 1 in the Channel Islands and 1 in Scotland) with the majority of cases confirmed in the South West of England.

Dr. Isabel Oliver, director of PHE’s field epidemiology service, said: PHE has put in place heightened surveillance for this strain of E. coli and is and carefully monitoring the reporting of cases across the entire country. To assist with this investigation, we have convened a national outbreak control team to identify the source of infection and to ensure all necessary control measures are put in place.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145And collaborate with the U.K. Food Standards Agency, whose idea of science-based verification is to cook meat until it is piping hot, and declared in 2011 that E. coli O157:H7 found on or in leeks or potatoes, was the consumers’ responsibility.

Almost two months after revealing 250 people were sickened and one died with E. coli O157:H7 phage-type 8 over the previous eight months in 2011, linked to people handling loose raw leeks and potatoes in their homes, FSA decided to launch a campaign reminding people to wash raw vegetables to help minimize the risk of food poisoning.

No information on how those 250 became sick and no information on farming and packing practices that may have led to such a massive contamination that so many people got sick, no information on anything: just advice to wash things thoroughly so that contamination can be spread throughout the kitchen.

This outbreak once again combines two of the central themes of conflict and public trust in all things food, which the English are seemingly terrible at: when to go public, and blaming consumers.

And now, John Oliver, again (NSFV).

An avirulent Salmonella to better understand outbreaks on produce

Recurrent outbreaks of bacterial gastroenteritis linked to the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables highlight the paucity of understanding of the ecology of Salmonella enterica under crop production and postharvest conditions.

tomatoThese gaps in knowledge are due, at least in part, to the lack of suitable surrogate organisms for studies for which biosafety level 2 is problematic. Therefore, we constructed and validated an avirulent strain of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.

The strain lacks major Salmonella pathogenicity islands SPI-1, SPI-2, SPI-3, SPI-4, and SPI-5 as well as the virulence plasmid pSLT. Deletions and the absence of genomic rearrangements were confirmed by genomic sequencing, and the surrogate behaved like the parental wild-type strain on selective media. A loss-of-function (phoN) selective marker allowed the differentiation of this strain from wild-type strains on a medium containing a chromogenic substrate for alkaline phosphatase. Lack of virulence was confirmed by oral infection of female BALB/c mice. The strain persisted in tomatoes, cantaloupes, leafy greens, and soil with the same kinetics as the parental wild-type and selected outbreak strains, and it reached similar final population levels. The responses of this strain to heat treatment and disinfectants were similar to those of the wild type, supporting its potential as a surrogate for future studies on the ecology and survival of Salmonella in production and processing environments.


There is significant interest in understanding the ecology of human pathogens in environments outside of their animal hosts, including the crop production environment. However, manipulative field experiments with virulent human pathogens are unlikely to receive regulatory approval due to the obvious risks. Therefore, we constructed an avirulent strain of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium and characterized it extensively.

Development of an avirulent Salmonella surrogate for modeling pathogen behavior in pre- and postharvest environments

Marcos H. de Moraes a, Travis K. Chapin b, Amber Ginn c, Anita C. Wright c, Kenneth Parker a, Carol Hoffman d, David W. Pascual d, Michelle D. Danyluk b and Max Teplitski a

A Soil and Water Science Department, Genetics Institute, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), Gainesville, Florida, USA

B Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Citrus Research and Education Center, UF/IFAS, Lake Alfred, Florida, USA

C Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, UF/IFAS, Gainesville, Florida, USA

D Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 82, Number 14, July 2016, Pages 4100-4111, doi:10.1128/AEM.00898-16


Could Brexit make British food worse than mushy peas and mad cow disease

Fortunately I live in the sub-tropical climate of Brisbane, with an outstanding variety of food.

But I grew up in Canada, and cherished the orange in my Xmas stocking.

east.india.trading.co.jun.16Now it’s routine.

Has no one seen Pirates of the Caribbean, terrible movies that make gazillions and it’s about conquest and trade, because British food royally sucks.

I try to mention that every time someone preaches about eating local: coffee and tea are not local to Canada or Britain. Neither are bananas.

Bee Wilson writes in The New Yorker that for most of her 42 years, she has been eating bananas in Britain.

The classic anti-European Union joke was that faceless Eurocrats banned “wonky” bananas and imposed a single, standardized fruit on the British people. Bureaucracy gone crazy! This Euromyth—one of many—was based on a 1994 E.U. ruling that bananas should be “free from abnormal curvature.” In fact, this rule applied only to bananas of the very highest grade. The normal British Class I and Class II bananas sold in most shops have always been allowed “defects of shape.”

Now that the Leave campaign has won the referendum on Europe, it is clear that far more was at stake for British food in the E.U. than our right to misshapen fruit.

On June 24th, Tim Lang, a professor at City University and the leading U.K. food-policy expert, tweeted, despairingly, “EU shock. Very sad.” And then, “Food Plan B now needed. Will the people who voted Brexit be prepared to dig for Britain, work in picking fields and factories for low pay?”

One of the main reasons for establishing the E.U. in the first place—aside from peace—was to insure a plentiful food supply for entire populations.

121114_richardsdeppAs Lang sees it, Europe not only nourished the British but changed British palates. With Britain’s membership in the union, sunny new produce flooded in from southern Europe: apricots, peaches, tomatoes, garlic. During the decades of our membership, the food on British dinner tables changed beyond all recognition. We developed a penchant for wine and soft French cheeses. In 1973, the U.K. was a country where olive oil could be bought—if at all—in tiny bottles from the chemist shop, as a cure for earwax. Now you could get lost in the olive-oil section of a British supermarket, from the kalamata varieties of Greece to the Arbequina of Spain.

In April, Lang co-authored—with Victoria Schoen—a “briefing paper” on the far-reaching impact of Brexit on British food. Lang and Schoen point out that, as of 2015, twenty-seven per cent of all food eaten in the U.K. (by value) was imported from the E.U. (compared with just four per cent from North America and four per cent from Africa). When it comes to fruits and vegetables, Britain is dependent on the E.U. for forty per cent of fresh produce. Lang sees this as a question of health as much as economics.

As Lang and Schoen write, “A vast array of agreements, policies and standards now underpin UK food.” Brexit could entail the renegotiation of thousands of exceedingly complex E.U. regulations, many of which concern the food system. E.U. law extends from environmental law and farm subsidies to food safety and nutrition. Brexiteers would say that it is precisely this complexity that Britain could do without.

Now, about the safety of that food.


E. coli O157 outbreak linked to salad, Bristol, UK

Public Health England has issued an alert about the increase in the number of cases of E.coli O157 infection involving people eating salad then being taken ill.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145No individual salad item or supplier has yet been identified, and PHE is working with environmental health officers in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and B&NES to try to trace the source of the outbreak.

Mike Wade, director of Health Protection for PHE South West said, “We also urge people to remove any loose soil before storing vegetables and thoroughly wash all vegetables, fruit and salad items that will be eaten raw.”

Not quite.

But it’s a good blaming consumers strategy.

No children have been affected to date.

Irrigation water safety in Penn.

Recent produce-associated foodborne illness outbreaks have been attributed to contaminated irrigation water. This study examined microbial levels in Pennsylvania surface waters used for irrigation, relationships between microbial indicator organisms and water physicochemical characteristics, and the potential use of indicators for predicting the presence of human pathogens.

A total of 153 samples taken from surface water sources used for irrigation in southeastern Pennsylvania were collected from 39 farms over a 2-year period. Samples were analyzed for six microbial indicator organisms (aerobic plate count, Enterobacteriaceae, coliform, fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, and enterococci), two human pathogens (Salmonella and E. coli O157), and seven physical and environmental characteristics (pH, conductivity, turbidity, air and water temperature, and sampling day and 3-day-accumulated precipitation levels).

Indicator populations were highly variable and not predicted by water and environmental characteristics. Only five samples were confirmed positive for Salmonella, and no E. coli O157 was detected in any samples. Predictive relationships between microbial indicators and the occurrence of pathogens could therefore not be determined.

Microbial survey of Pennsylvania surface water used for irrigating produce crops

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 902-912(11)

Draper, Audrey D.; Doores, Stephanie; Gourama, Hassan; LaBorde, Luke F.