Spinach, Leafy Green Still Suffer From Recall

According to a research report released Feb. 5 by Rutgers University Food Policy Institute, the produce industry still has work to do to prevent scenarios like the spinach recall.

Rutgers’ research indicated a decline in consumption by the 1,200 respondents, but more worrisome was the lack of clear understanding about the products involved in the outbreak.

During the height of the coverage, consumers were unsure of the spinach products affected. Almost all identified bagged spinach as affected (95 percent), but 68 percent identified loose bulk spinach as affected and more than 20 percent were unsure about frozen spinach.

Consumers in the survey also were unsure of where the produce was grown. About half identified California as the state of origin, but 40 percent responded that they were unsure of where the spinach came from. That means the stickers of origin that processors put on their bagged products meant nothing to half the potential buyers.

There were some positives. More than four out of five respondents heard about the contamination, with most first hearing about the recall on television. So, while the industry’s communication to the media was effective, Rutgers showed we need to clearly identify the product involved in a recall and avoid broad warnings.

FDA is taking steps to increase the visibility of recalls. The agency launched a six-month trial program in February that will include a photo of the recalled product’s label. The goal of the trial is to help consumers identify the recalled products easily and effectively.

This is a step in the right direction. As we saw in the spinach recall, news media won’t have to go to a store and grab the nearest package for their next newscast – even if the company’s logo they’re displaying isn’t involved in the recall.

This issue of Fresh Cut has an article on a few of the food safety initiatives moving forward in California and Washington, D.C. Each plan has the goal of increasing the safety of the food we eat, but one is on a voluntary regional level, one is at the state level and one takes a national and international perspective.

There is also a feature story about GreenLine, the largest distributor of fresh-cut green beans in the country. The Bowling Green, Ohio-based processor has grown in its 22 years to include three processing facilities and its own distribution system.

On a final note, there is a preview of the United Fresh Produce Association’s FreshTech, scheduled for April 25-28 in Palm Springs, Calif. Fresh Cut will be at the trade show and I encourage you to stop by our booth, number 200.

See you in Palm Springs!


Latest News