It’s getting close to a decade since the outbreaks involving spinach and tomatoes (which was eventually linked to peppers), and industry and government have learned and improved much since then, both in food safety and the aftermath.
Unfortunately, there are still unforeseen problems that accompany outbreaks, as the apple industry is seeing in early 2015 with the latest incident.
A listeria outbreak was linked to Bidart Bros.’ granny smiths and gala apples, which have been out of the shipping pipeline for months, but some countries are refusing to take U.S. apples from other shippers.
U.S. apple industry members met with members of Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, Commerce Department, the U.S. Trade Representative office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, in late January, to help with the export troubles.
Apple industry members are justifiably concerned that government officials aren’t as quick to assure anyone who asks that all shippers outside the recall are safe shippers.
Government officials have said they’ve made it clear who is safe, and they are doing what’s required.
There’s clearly a disconnect, so a new system of communication is needed.
But it’s also not all on the government.
It’s good to see association leaders working not only on improving food safety, but also assuring domestic and foreign consumers that the rest of the apple crop is perfectly safe to eat.
A foreign country has to have an easier way to find the facts, and interested parties in the U.S. must provide them to take away that trade-blocking excuse.
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