Yet Another Spinach Recall

From the Washington Post:

FRESNO, Calif. — Consumer advocates and some lawmakers say that a Salinas Valley company’s recall of spinach because of a salmonella scare shows that the federal government must do more to protect the nation’s food supply, but industry officials call it proof that their voluntary regulations are working.

Metz Fresh, a King City-based grower and shipper, recalled 8,000 cartons of fresh spinach Wednesday after salmonella was found during a routine test of spinach it was processing for shipment. More than 90 percent of the possibly contaminated cartons never reached stores, company spokesman Greg Larson said.

There’s some truth to both sides here. Yes, hooray for the fact that over 90% of the spinach never made it to market. So this does show that there is some process in place to test produce prior to shipping, and that the testing works.

But on the other side of the coin is the fact, considering last year’s E-Coli scare and the work that has gone into prevent another outbreak, salmonella should not have appeared at all. In other words, something went wrong and it wasn’t caught until the last possible moment. In an e-mail that was forwarded to me, Jean Halloran, a Consumers Union food safety expert said,

“Eight thousand cartons left the plant for distribution in the U.S. That’s 8,000 too many. There needs to be a hold and test policy that prevents food from ever leaving the plant. There’s also a glaring need for across-the-board improvements to the FDA to enable its staff to do more routine inspections with the full authority to recall contaminated vegetables.”

Of course, the odds of FDA improvements are zero, at least for the next few years. So the market has to hold the spinach producers accountable. So the market needs to avoid any product by Metz Fresh until they can answer the following question – Just how in the hell did salmonella tainted spinach get to the distribution center?

(h/t to Jack over at Fork & Bottle)