US: Current issues in produce safety: growing areas
Food Safety News: There is nothing more iconic than the image of the farmer plowing his field, and anyone rubbing shoulders with these hard-working individuals enters a world of timeless traditions.
Food safety in any application may seem quite simple, and so it appears to be in agriculture, at least on the surface. If the growing area is free of contamination and workers are in good health, and the environment, water and overall growing conditions do not negatively impact operations, consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables should be considered a low risk for causing foodborne illness.
The evidence, however, points strongly in the other direction. Produce-borne outbreaks caused by bacteria, parasites and viruses are all-too-common events and, in many instances, investigation reveals unsanitary conditions in the growing area as the initial source of the pathogenic agent.