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Recent E-Coli Outbreaks Prompt CA Farmers to Seek Governmental Oversight


Aired 4/19/09

California’s produce farmers are asking the federal government for more oversight. They say consumer anxiety about food safety could hurt their bottom line. KPBS Radio’s Andrew Phelps has the story.

Mike Marks, of the food distributor FreshPoint, says it’s a bad year for California produce. Marks has seen estimates that spinach farmers lost over $100 million after a recent E. coli outbreak. And now green onions grown in Oxnard are suspected in another outbreak of the bacteria. Marks says all these outbreaks are frustrating farmers.

Marks: Farmers are doing everything that they know how to do, especially here in California. But these continue to pop up. And that’s why the industry is saying, “Look, we need some oversight and some help into figuring out -- what’s going on here?”

Marks says the federal government could provide more access to science and research. And he says increased oversight might reduce the risk of multi-million dollar law suits against California growers. For KPBS, I’m Andrew Phelps.

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