(April 24) A Dateline NBC report set for April 30 has produce industry groups on their toes.

In preparation for the report on bagged salad safety, the Washington D.C.-based United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and Alexandria, Va.-based International Fresh-cut Produce Association released a member advisory April 21.

The 15-20 minute story will likely focus on an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak associated with Dole bagged salads that occurred in September in Minnesota, according to the advisory. The advisory predicted that Dateline would present a consumer scare story, although United and IFPA offered the show background information.

“We feel that we were able to provide some balance to the story, but how much of that is actually allowed to come through in the story remains to be seen,” said Amy Philpott, vice president of marketing and industry relations for United.

Jim Gorny, vice president of quality assurance for United, participated in a Dateline interview, in addition to representatives from fresh produce companies.

In talking to Dateline, United tried to emphasize that its members follow good agricultural practices and that it was helping develop "Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Lettuce and Leafy Greens Supply Chain," Philpott said.

She said the document was expected to be released April 25.

The main message IFPA presented to Dateline was that the produce industry is working to reach a goal of zero illnesses and is seeing progress, said Lisa Allen, spokeswoman for IFPA.

“We’ve done everything to put the industry vantage point out there,” Allen said. “Until we see the finished product, it’s hard to judge what it’s going to say. We just hope it’s going to be somewhat fair.”

The produce industry has made advances in food safety programs in every step of the supply chain, said David Gombas, vice president of technology and regulatory affairs for IFPA. Even if the report is unfair, Gombas said he doubts it will effect produce consumption.

“If it’s not a balanced piece, I think the American consumers have seen enough villain/victim TV exposés to see that there’s another side to the story,” Gombas said.

The show is set for 7 p.m. EST