June 13, 2011: OTA responds to "Europe's Organic Food Scare" in The Wall Street Journal
In reaction to your June 13 editorial "Europe's Organic Food Scare":
Sprouts—regardless of their source—have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration as requiring special food safety protocols because of the potential for pathogen growth during the sprouting process. In fact, the FDA requires retail/food service facilities involved in the production of sprouted beans or seeds for sale to implement a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plan.
All food, whether conventionally or organically produced, is susceptible to E. coli. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledge there is no evidence to indicate that organic products are more likely to be contaminated by E. coli.
Your editorial offers irradiation as a panacea for killing today's virulent pathogens, while dismissing consumer concern over the practice. Organic products offer consumers a viable choice between the chemically intensive conventional agricultural products prevalent in our marketplace and those that respect the health of farmers and the environment.
What organic agriculture does not offer are modern practices such as using toxic and persistent pesticides that have been linked to harming children's cognitive development, the application of sewage sludge on the land, the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics that have been linked to breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria including virulent strains of E. coli, and the use of synthetic growth hormones that have questionable effects on humans.
U.S. organic producers must comply with all U.S. food safety and other food regulations as well as meeting the third-party exacting standards of the Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP). These include recognizing the importance that sanitation plays in the safety of all foods and allowing for sanitizers such as limited use of chlorine materials, peroxyacetic acid and ozone in organic crop production and handling. In fact, in congressional discussions on food safety legislation last year, traceability and other practices of organic production and processing were held as a gold standard for other agricultural sectors to emulate.
Organic Trade Association