How’s Your Lettuce?

romaine_lettuce
Romaine Lettuce (public domain, ARS USDA)

The Centers for Disease Control has urged consumers to avoid eating Romaine lettuce because of a particularly nasty outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. The warning involves multiple states. An opinion piece from the editor of Food Safety News reminds us:

Once not so long ago, we had a little unit called the Microbiological Data Program (MDP). Run by USDA, the MDP contracted with a dozen state agricultural labs to go out and test fresh produce.

In other words, the MDP sent the state ag labs out during the various harvest seasons to sample and test what’s coming out of the fields. The MDP existed from 2002-2012. It reached a point where it was responsible for 80 percent of the fresh produce testing in the U.S.

The MDP only cost taxpayers about $5 million. The New York Times called it “a tiny program that matters.” But the produce industry hated the MDP, and it apparently had a significant hand in killing it.

Letter From The Editor: Romaine, Reform and Revive
Food Safety News, April 28, 2018 by Dan Flynn

This is a very interesting editorial, well worth your time.