Saturday, June 8, 2013


Well, so much for COSTCO making berries safer (see previous post). This past week it had a rather unpleasant recall of a supposedly very healthy frozen berry mix, sourced from Townsend Farms of Fairview, Oregon. At least 30 serious hepatitis A illnesses in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California have been linked to this Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend. Yes...Here we go with another recall of an organic food.

But let's look closely at this product. It is a true example of our global food supply. Not only did it contain those supposedly contaminated pomegranate seeds from Turkey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that this berry mix also included products from Argentina and Chile.

Yes, it is indeed wonderful to be able to buy anything we want to eat. But on the downside, such global sourcing of food has also been know to introduce new, or new strains, of bacteria, parasites and viruses into the U.S. from other countries. In this case, the particular strain of hepatitis A is rarely seen in North America, but is found in the North Africa and Middle East regions. It could well be that some sick farm worker in Turkey handled the pomegranate seeds. And there we are.

By the way, The Safe Food Handbook: How to Make Smart Choices About Risky Food, has a section in the introduction which analyzes why our food is not becoming any safer, in spite of all the efforts made and the new technology available. One of the main reasons noted is that "more and more of our food is imported from overseas." Yes, the U.S. does have food safety standards and guidelines for overseas producers, distributors, and processors. But, as the book points out, they are often poorly enforced and easily circumvented, more so in some countries than others. So we pay a price.

As an informed consumer, it is up to you to decide if you want to take the risk.

To your good health,


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