National Editor Tom KarstAnother health official made the unfortunate mistake of "seeming" to blame consumers for foodborne illness outbreaks, in a story called "Consumers blamed for salmonella outbreak".
It sounds as if the reporter attended a meeting where said public health official (Indiana Department of Health's Jim Howell) met with area melon growers.
Probably tilting his remarks to the crowd, the health official "seemed to place most of the blame for the outbreak on consumers," in the words of the reporter. It is one thing to say, "Consumers are mostly to blame for the outbreak," and quite another to have another report the inference based on your remarks.
Whether or not Howell knew a reporter was present, he should have not put himself in a position to be misunderstood. However, you can't really argue with his points that consumers should take the time to wash the outside of melons.
Unfortunately, Howell doesn't add clarity to the confusion about the market withdrawl versus recall decision that was made early on relative to cantaloupes from Chamberlain Farms.
Howell also suggested to growers that state department of agriculture, in connection with the federal government, "want to develop a method of tracing specific produce to its grower."
Gee, we have the Produce Traceability Initiative. Given the continued uneven embrace of traceability, isn't it time to make PTI mandatory?
Vote on the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group poll here.
As the Good Book says in Proverbs,"The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him."
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