Pew: Authorities should reconsider cattle grazing near vegetable fields
The Pew Charitable Trusts last week called for a “multidimensional” approach to the problem of E. coli bacteria that caused three foodborne illness outbreaks in late 2019 coming from cattle that grazed near fields of romaine lettuce or leafy greens.
A Food and Drug Administration report released in May “makes clear that allowing cattle to graze near fields that grow romaine lettuce or other leafy greens creates an unacceptable risk to the health of consumers, who often eat these foods raw. The question is how best to reduce this danger,” wrote Sandra Eskin, who runs the food safety program at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Eskin noted that state and local governments, not the federal government, have jurisdiction “over land use, whether for cattle grazing or other activities. That’s why agencies at those levels need to consider adjacent land use when allowing cattle to graze on a particular property and put in place appropriate requirements and restrictions.”
But she also said that the Agriculture Department should evaluate whether its current programs “could help livestock operations to control fecal contamination from cattle more effectively. If existing programs do not allow for such incentives, then the department should consider establishing ones that do.”
And she said the FDA “should lead an effort to find comprehensive solutions to the public health problems created when cattle and produce farms operate in proximity.”