Supermarkets want farmers to change after E.coli outbreak
TRI-CITIES, Wash. - The tainted spinach E.coli outbreak is over but a number of supermarkets still feel the burn from the money they lost and now they want farmers to change their ways.
Albertsons, Vons, Ralphs, and other stores are on a list of supermarkets that want farmers to develop new rules to avoid another deadly E.coli outbreak associated with leafy greens.
The Benton Franklin County Health department said they are not surprised by the supermarkets request.
Albertsons Representative Donna Eggers said they are working with other supermarkets to change the produce industry.
They wrote a letter to farmers representatives stating they want the industry to move quickly toward restoring consumer and buyer confidence in fresh produce.
Benton Franklin County Health Department official Susan Shelton said, "They have to make sure the food they serve is safe so they have to assume it's safe coming into them, so yes I think it's fair for them to demand the change."
Shelton said, "It's growing on the ground. Harvest it and try to get it into the stores as fast as they have a good quality product."
The supermarkets took a big financial hit when customers stopped buying their product, between growers, shippers and sellers there was more than 100 million dollars was lost.
Eggers said, "Safety is our number one concern."
Shelton said, "That's the issue we have a whole bunch of farms feeding into one processing facility or one packaging facility and if one is contaminated then that whole batch would also be contaminated. It's a large scale operation that I see as difficult."
The supermarkets want farmers to work with scientists and regulators to make sure produce that winds up on our shelves is safe.