(Sept. 20) The Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association said it will host a town hall-style, information-sharing meeting Sept. 21 in Salinas, Calif., at the Richard W. Nutter Agriculture Conference Center from 10 a.m. to noon.
âPMA continues to receive many questions about what FDA is doing to narrow the scope of its investigation and determine a source of this outbreak,â Bryan Silbermann, president of PMA, said in a release.
Silbermann said in the release the meeting will give participants an opportunity to gain insight on the effect the outbreak has had on spinach and other related produce categories as a first step toward consumer and industry recovery.
He said he had recently sent a letter to FDA asking for a meeting to discuss the desirability of a better and formalized communications protocol to keep the produce industry engaged in case of future incidents.
Tim Chelling, vice president of communications for Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers Association, said his organization planned to attend the meeting along with the California Department of Health Services, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Alliance for Food and Farming.
âWe want to listen to the growers and see what kind of questions and answers they have,â Chelling said. âWe canât go forward until we know what happened. Itâs like an aircraft accident investigation. You donât speculate. You start with a broad scope, and then you start narrowing it down as quickly as possible.â
During the FDAâs Sept. 19 media briefing, David Acheson, chief medical officer for the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said the number of E. coli cases had grown in one day from 114 to 131 in 21 states.