Top Food Safety Challenges For '09

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Food safety lawyer Bill Marler has his list here -- he wrote that it was hard to narrow the number of big challenges down to only 10.

Globalization is No. 1 to him, but it's his No. 2 that surprised me the most: local food.

"Outbreaks linked to local food and/or farmers markets. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups and food co-ops need to demonstrate knowledge and practice of food safety, and be inspected. In addition to produce and meats/fish, prepared items are currently unsupervised."

I realize, as I've said before, that local does not automatically mean healthier. But I've also assumed that (1) the infinitely smaller scale of farmers markets and CSAs, compared to big agribusiness, means that any outbreaks would be far better contained, easier to trace and easier to fix, and (2) even if we're not experts on contamination, it helps to be able to talk to the people who are growing your produce, and even visit their land, so you can see for yourself if, say, there's a factory farm of dairy cows next door to your lettuce and any accompanying increase in E. coli risk.

Also, prepared food vendors at our farmers markets, as we discovered last year, need a seasonal permit from the Seattle-King County Health Department, which I assumed would mean something.

Marler, though, is a go-to guy when it comes to food safety. So I'm going to him today to learn more. I'll post on what I hear.




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