Archive for September 21st, 2006

Spinach industry fighting back

September 21, 2006

Ad Age magazine reports the spinach industry is planning on spending a bunch of money trying to rescue the $300 million dollar industry. Already there are reports of farmers near Salinas, CA having to plow their spinach crops into the ground because of the FDA ban and collapse of demand following the e.coli outbreak.

E.coli is dangerous and all precautions should be taken. But e.coli doesn’t come from spinach. I won’t mention where I understand it comes from nor will I speculate on how it got on organic spinach from a healthy sounding brand like “Earthbound.” Seems to me the most important thing is to help consumers understand how that nasty stuff got on perfectly good stuff and what those involved in the processing are doing to make certain it doesn’t happen again.

The article references the Odwalla e.coli problem and steps taken after that. I haven’t studied it but it seems to me Odwalla is one of those few major reputation/safety crises that turned out pretty good for the company. Very appropriate to have the PR manager from Edelman invovled in that commenting on this situation–and his comments are right on target.

What I find interesting about this situation is the possible impact on “organic.” Seems to me people pay a lot more for stuff labeled organic than typically can be justified by the benefit, but that is only my perception. But if they are doing that for safety reason, what impact will this have. Sure, it has nothing to do with the organic categorization of the product, or does it. After all, if they don’t use commercial fertilizer, what do they use to fertilize organic spinach. And where does e.coli come from again?

Whatever, explantion is needed to reduce impact not just on spinach but on the organic labeling.