Monday, May 9, 2011


Labelling of produce can help to keep us safe. By U.S. law, fresh produce should be labeled according to its country-of-origin- U.S.A, Mexico,Canada, or whatever. This "COOL" law has applied to product since 2008 (it applies to other food products as well). All retailers, big and small, are supposed to comply. Packaged fresh produce items (in plastic bags, clam-shell containers, or whatever) are meant to have the country of origin on the label. Loose produce is supposed to show that information somewhere - as on a packing case underneath, or sign. That is, in theory.

So since I was out shopping a couple of days ago, I decided to pop into a few local stores and see how their grape tomato sales were doing. The answer - very well indeed. No one seemed to be worried about Salmonella.

My local Safeway was still selling them, with the country-of-orgin and distributor name visible on the packaging, and in the case of loose ones, readable if you more or less stood on your head. The small "local" produce market across the way (which, I have noticed, also sells a lot of products from Mexico, and even Asia) had some in those aqua plastic baskets (bought in bulk, and then repackaged, I assume) with no label or country-of-origin visible. I asked, and was told that "they were probably from the USA." No one in the store seemed to know who the distributor was. (By now we know that some loose tomatoes are being recalled as well).

At Trader Joe's they were still there, in the clam-shell packages that I had pictured in an earlier post. While Trader Joe’s, a national grocery chain, has indeed recalled certain lots of its Splendido Trader Joe's Little Tomatoes - for instance - in Ohio, I was told that these ones had come from a different farm. Well, we shall see. Let's hope they didn't even share the same packing line with the recalled ones.

To your good health!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The channels of communications in the large chain store companies are part of the problem. By the time the head office hears about a health risk, shuffles papers and sends the message to the shop floor, days have passed. Add this to the disinterested, unqualified staff that are employed at minimum wages and no wonder contaminated food sits on shelves for weeks.