Not sure how this will increase produce food safety

The Arizona Republic reports today that the Arizona Department of Agriculture has announced plans to introduce new technology that will make fresh produce inspection faster, cheaper and more effective.

The story says that officials believe that produced tainted with bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, will have a harder time ending up in the hands of consumers because the dept of ag can conduct more inspections (and cut their per-inspection time down to an hour)
"The introduction of the Fresh Electronic Inspection Reporting/Resource System allows inspectors to input inspection data, such as sugar content and produce quality, into special software developed specifically for that purpose."

It’s believed that by cutting down inspection time, there will be more time for more government random checks.

Maybe it will increase the visibility of inspectors on the farm, but I’m not convinced that more generic inspection is the way to go — having people on farms help farmers reduce risk (either through extension or industry consulting — people who know the risks, and how to manage them) seems a lot more productive to me.  There is research to suggest that more restaurant inspections do not lead to a reduction of the likelihood of illnesses. Farms may be different, but I’m not sure.

I’m not versed in the Arizona Department of Ag’s inspection regime, but I did a quick search of the site and didn’t find any reference to inspecting for good agricultureal practices (searched "inspection" and all I got was the press release saying that they are using the new technology).

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.