Two recent organic food recalls prove that organic does not mean pathogen free. According to theUSDA, First Class Foods, of Hawthorne, California issued a recall of 34,373 pounds of organic beef over potential contamination with E. coli bacteria on December 30th of last year. That beef was distributed in California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Washington State, and Wisconsin, and was sold under the Organic Harvest and Nature’s Harvest label. At that time, according to the FDA, Tiny Greens Organic Farm also recalled alfalfa and spicy sprouts over concerns of potential contamination with the Salmonella pathogen. Those sprouts were distributed in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. July of last year, a recall was initiated by Specialty Farms regarding a possible Listeria contamination of their sprouts. Organicgirls also issued a recall over concerns of Salmonella contamination last year.
Organics is big business, generating billions in sales every year. However, the agency that oversees the certifying process is underfunded and understaffed, and agents have an incentive to approve companies that are paying them. Before, organic labeling didn’t mean much when it came to processed food in packages (many packaged foods have a few orgainic are not 100% organic), but now fresh organic food is just as suspect. The truth is that we take a risk every time we eat something, organic or not, as pathogens can enter the food chain at time. Consumers should remember that pesticide free does not mean pathogen free. At the same time, we should be able to expect stricter adherence to cleanliness and quality when we pay the higher price for organics. Yet, as the recalls prove, it is folly to expect–and believe– the people and companies that sell such products are of the same philosophy. Also, funnily enough, we tend believe, on some unconscious level, that the higher price of organics should keep us safe and healthy. But the truth is it does not ensure safety. So, the real issues and concerns are over who inspects, processes, and handles our food, and those standards are coming under pressure from the public as big companies cash in on the growing demand for organic foods. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we encourage consumers to update their understanding the hierarchy of organic labeling and become proactive about their purchases by asking where their products come from and how fresh they are, etc.etc. If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to ingesting a contaminated product, contact our office for a free consultation.