In what may make its marketing folks squeamish, Fresh Del Monte's legal action against the FDA is drawing some notice. 

From Business WeekSuit could chill government efforts to keep food safe

From the story:

Florida-based Del Monte Fresh Produce is striking back at the FDA with a lawsuit after the agency halted imports of its Guatemalan cantaloupes, saying they may be contaminated with salmonella. Such a lawsuit is extremely rare, and the threat of litigation could make officials more reluctant to tell the public about the possibility of contamination in food.

"If this case is successful from an industry perspective, it will change the attitude of regulators," said former FDA assistant commissioner David Acheson, now a food safety consultant. "They will obviously be more reluctant."

Michael Doyle, the director for the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia who has advised the FDA on food safety issues, said the lawsuit could set a dangerous precedent.

"More often than not the public health authorities and the epidemiologists are correct," Doyle said. "If you start putting public health officials in the crosshairs of the lawyers it's probably going to have a major dampening effect on whether foods are recalled in time to prevent a substantial amount of illnesses."

Food safety lawyer Bill Marler call the Del Monte action a frivolous shakedown in this column.

I would wager that some produce firms are pleased with Del Monte's action. If it makes regulators more careful about calling for recalls - the so called "chilling effect" - many in the industry probably sees that as a good thing. However   the case turns out for Del Monte on the public relations front, their public posture toward FDA has likely won them a band of  like-minded,  if quiet  supporters.

As reported in the UK Telegraph, consumers are set to give the retail industry a counter punch. New research from IGD, a retail research firm, indicates that 29% of consumers planned to do more of their shopping at discount stores to fight what they perceive to be rising food inflation  retail stores. Same trend in the U.S.?

Yesterday I posed a question to the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group; If there is one thing you could stop people in the produce industry from doing, what would it be?

Some responses:

Tom:  Dictating price. If we could allow, in a reasonable manner, the markets to do their thing and everyone take a modest profit, buyers and suppliers could develop real relationships again and get quality to the consumer for repeat business and loyalty.

Kevin: Stop selling tasteless fruit.

Jennifer: Harvesting product before it's really ready.

Mareya:  Not addressing the perception that produce is expensive, which discourages shoppers. We need a good public service campaign that addresses the value of produce in overall health and not so focused on 'healthy food costing too much.

Kathy: I'd say please keep the tasteless product off the market -- don't harvest it, sell it, or put it out for consumers. Our products need to be consistently fantastic -- every bite, every time -- to keep consumers coming back for more. More produce sales equals healthier consumers and a healthier industry!to roll in, and here are a few:


Most of the media reports about farmers markets are effusive in praise of their appeal, but I saw a post on a Food discussion group on Google that caught my eye because of its contrary take.

Julie wrote:

Stopped by the farmers' market and I was not impressed!  We did shop at Target and Costco so really had plenty of produce.  But I wanted to stop at this one to see if the prices were better.  They were.  A lot better.  But...  Most of the stuff was so rotted I wouldn't touch it!  I did get some sweet peppers that appear to be thin skinned.  They are longer than bells.  One is yellow with some red and the others are red.  They did have a name.  I just can't remember it.  They were 3 for $1.00 but I really had to pick through them to find any that weren't mushy.  The green bells were mushy and wrinkled.  And the pears were going mushy.  I didn't really look too much at the other stuff because we didn't need it.

Links of note:

Retailers key to ethical sourcing

August unemployment numbers

Child labor rule