Food safety attorney Bill Marler spoke out from across the globe today after hearing that bagged spinach has once again been recalled for contamination with a potentially deadly foodborne pathogen. Nearly a year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 205 illnesses and three deaths associated with consumption of E. coli O157:H7-contaminated Dole-brand bagged spinach, Metz Fresh of King City, California, recalled 8,118 cases of spinach for potential Salmonella contamination.
“Since last year’s outbreak, the leafy greens industry has taken several positive steps toward reducing the risk of contaminated product reaching our food supply, but this latest recall proves that a voluntary compliance program is not sufficient to protect the public,” Marler said.
On July 23, members of the California Leafy Greens Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA) began using a service mark certifying membership in the LGMA program. LGMA Chairman Joe Pezzini commented on the new service mark and Marketing Agreement: “Beginning July 23rd, we will begin to certify to our customers that California lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens have been grown to the highest food safety standards available.”
“Although Metz Fresh was reportedly using a test-and-hold system to prevent contaminated spinach from reaching the food supply, it is apparent that the system was not effective, given that approximately 800 cases of contaminated spinach made their way into the supply chain,” Marler continued. “We’re seeing today that regulation is needed to protect the leafy green industry from itself.”
Marler, who is internationally known as a food safety advocate, is in Melbourne, Australia, where he is delivering a keynote address at the Dairy Industry Association of Australia’ s Dairy Science World Series conference. In September he will travel to Beijing, China, for the China International Food Safety and Quality Conference and Exposition, and will deliver a keynote address entitled, “The Legal Costs of Foodborne Illness”.