Friday, September 11, 2009


Living in California, you would think it was easy to eat local produce - particularly fresh local vegetables, like lettuce, spinach, green onions, tomatoes. So much of it is grown right here. So what's the problem?

Remember those green onions that were recalled recently because they were found to be contaminated with salmonella bacteria ? Well, we thought they were grown in Salinas, right, because they were distributed by Steinbeck Country Produce, based in Salinas, California. Well, that's not quite the case. It turns out that they were actually grown in Mexicali, Mexico - NEAR the California border, shipped to Salinas (unless I am wrong, some 449 miles away), packaged and then passed off as California grown produce. Nice....

This is rather disillusioning, particularly if you read the company's website - all that emphasis on food safety, 'California,' family owned business, and so on.

These onions were distributed in California, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, New York, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Arizona. By the way, the same Mexican onion grower also probably sold them to several other distributors.

The CEO of Steinbeck Country Produce made it all sound as though the company was bending over backwards to protect consumers. Quoting: "This recall is voluntary, based on a strong sense of caution for consumer well-being. Food safety is our primary concern at Steinbeck Country Produce, and this recall shows that our procedures are efficient, effective and immediate." Thanks a lot. Excuse me if I don't quite believe you. I suspect your grandfather may have felt that way, but now you have got too big and successful to really care.

To make matters worse, he added the usual meaningless statement: "Fortunately, there are not any reported illnesses at this time, and we will continue to respond quickly and efficient[ly?] to ensure consumer well being." How does he know there aren't any illnesses? Most cases are not diagnosed or reported. And it is very difficult to do a trace-back in a couple of weeks.

While he is at it, he could also pay attention to his grammar - or was that the FDA?

Bon appetit! (But don't trust the labels)


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