Courtesy Chiquita Brands International(UPDATED COVERAGE, May 26) Chiquita Brands International is launching a national advertising campaign that touts flavor and freshness in Fresh Express salads — and the company’s food safety technology, Fresh Rinse.
Television, print and online ads start this week behind a tagline of “consistently, deliciously fresh,” said Bob Stallman, general manager of salads at Cincinnati-based Chiquita, parent company of Fresh Express, Salinas, Calif.
For Fresh Rinse, it’s the latest step in a gradual rollout of the chlorine-wash alternative that began at the Produce Marketing Association convention in October.
“Fresh Express salads are washed in Fresh Rinse, a breakthrough eco-friendly wash that now cleans our salads seven times better,” one ad tells consumers after a chef praises the product’s taste.
More than a year after the first Fresh Express salad plant began using Fresh Rinse, all seven plants have adopted it, said Mike Burness, vice president of global quality and food safety.
“As of May 24, Fresh Express salads will be offered as thoroughly washed in Fresh Rinse,” he said.
A Fresh Rinse logo will be added to salad packages, a gradual move the company expects to complete as the year goes on.
In the industry, food safety measures haven’t been a common topic for advertising. Tim York, president of Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative, said such advertising is problematic — even if the industry ultimately embraces the product.
“We’re back to the food safety wars,” York said. “I have the usual concerns we have in the industry about dueling food safety programs. If indeed it claims to be seven times better, does that mean what we’ve been eating is dirty or not safe? It leads to that inevitable question.”
“I’m sure it’s a good product,” York said. “I’m just not sure that’s what the industry should be doing at this point — saying, ‘I’m better than you are.’”
On the whole, York said, the industry is yet to be convinced by the claims for Fresh Rinse.
“I can almost guarantee you there are detractors who have run parallel tests based on the patent filings and will say it’s not seven times better, it may even be worse,” he said. “But there’s a great unknown (in such tests) — you don’t know what’s the missing process or ingredient. We need industry vetting. If it’s seven times better, we’ll be the first to say amen and sign up. It’d be crazy not to, and irresponsible.”