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Orange County, California

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John Bisnar
John Bisnar
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E.coli Outbreak Prompts Call For Inspections

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The Western Growers Association, an Irvine-based trade group that represents California and Arizona farmers, is pushing state regulators to enforce mandatory food safety guidelines for green, leafy produce, according to an article written by Nancy Luna for The Orange County Register last week.

This proposal comes in the wake of bad publicity for these farmers after a series of E.coli outbreaks connected to spinach and lettuce grown in California farms.

According to a news release posted on the group’s Web site, www.wga.com, the new marketing agreement between the group and growers will mandate all leafy greens – lettuce, arugula, cabbage and spinach — to be inspected by state agricultural officials before they are distributed. That means produce will be certified with a label similar to a U.S. Department of Agriculture label on meat products, according to Western Growers.

The Orange County Register article quotes Tim Chelling, a spokesman for the association:

It will probably be the most stringent regulations in the state’s history.

The new procedures, expected to “restore public confidence in the state’s food supply, could be implemented as early as March. The California Department of Food and Agriculture could approve the agreement as early as Feb.1st.

E.coli bacteria have wreaked havoc through the nation in recent months. In August and September three people died and more than 200 were sickened after eating raw spinach tainted with E.coli. In November 71 people in five states reported getting sick after eating at Taco Bell restaurants on the East Coast. Of those victims, 52 were confirmed E.coli cases. In early December, more than 250 people became ill after eating at an Olive Garden restaurant in the Midwest. Similar cases were also reported among dozens of customers at Taco John restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota.

Bisnar|Chase has assisted numerous consumers who have suffered the consequences of food-borne illnesses such as Hapatitis A, E. coli, Shigella and Listeria, which can cause various medical problems and in serious cases, death. About 76 million people in our country experience such illnesses each year out of which 300,000 require hospitalization.

It is about time that the sources of produce used most commonly on our sandwiches, tacos and salads are subjected to the most stringent scrutiny. It’s not just about growers. Our Orange County Health Departments should hold restaurants to the highest standard as well. Many times, customers do not see the conditions in which their food is prepared. Restaurant workers must comply with health codes to make sure people are not sickened by unsafe food and unsanitary conditions.

If you or a loved one has become ill as a result of unsafe food, call us.