I’ve been sitting on this for a week now, naively hoping there would be further information from lettuce producers, processors and health types.
And then I remembered this is Australia, where information on foodborne outbreaks disappears into a black hole, maybe to reappear in court a couple of years later, maybe not.
At last count, the number of people struck down by a Salmonella outbreak linked to a Bacchus Marsh salad supplier had passed 200.
The outbreak, which has been traced back to Tripod Farmers salad ingredients, has generated lots of discussion about supporting farmers and almost nothing about the sick people.
Bulmer Farms managing director Andrew Bulmer, who farms at Lindenow in East Gippsland, said he had seen demand drop back by 30 to 40 per cent, even though his business was not linked to the outbreak and that, “They’re 100 per cent safe and people should have confidence.” Bulmer Farms managing director Andrew Bulmer, who farms at Lindenow in East Gippsland, said he had seen demand drop back by 30 to 40 per cent, even though his business was not linked to the outbreak.
Mr. Bulmer said it had been a big hit during their busiest season.
“We supply a lot of raw product into processing companies that then put bagged product on shelves in supermarkets and we’ve seen a 30 to 40 per cent downturn in that business with demand for raw products into those processors,” he said.
“I’d expect it’d be another couple of weeks until it dies down a little bit and consumers regain the confidence to go back out and buy the washed salads which, by the way are ready to go as of now.
“They’re 100 per cent safe and people should have confidence.”
What are the safety protocols on Victorian lettuce farms? How often is irrigation water tested? What kind of soil amendments are used (poop)? Is there any end-product testing to verify systems are working? Is there a rigorous employee handwashing and sanitation program? Are all of these steps verified? Does management instill a culture of food safety first?
There is no such thing as 100% safe.
But reasonable steps can be taken to reduce risk.
And producers, don’t leave it to health types to inform the public. They’ll still have their jobs and supers after the outbreak. If you, as a producer, are doing the right thing, go and brag about it.