Listening to DC Talk this morning as I consider the top fruit and vegetable/food safety stories in the consumer media over the past few days. Here are the nominees;

Recall leaves mystery in its wake

From the Washington Post:

Federal microbiologists and food safety investigators have descended on the Danville, Va., plant that makes Nestlé's refrigerated cookie dough, trying to crack a scientific mystery surrounding a national outbreak of illness from E. coli 0157, a deadly strain of bacteria, which has been linked to the product.

TK: Shades of tomatoes? An Oregon health official says he is 100% certain it is Nestle cookie dough, though no tests have confirmed E. coli in the product. Some 39% of consumers disregard the “don’t eat raw” label, the article says.

French apple growers decry imports

From the Freshinfo story:

French apple growers are up in arms at the volume and price points of imported apples being marketed in France.
Bruno Dupont, president of the French growers’ union Fédération Nationale des Producteurs de Fruits, has written to the owner of the Leclerc supermarket chain Michel-Edouard Leclerc to express his “stupefaction and revolt” at Brazilian Royal Gala being promoted at €1 (£0.85) a kilo.

TK: Retailers can’t win. I earlier said that U.S. retailers could move out the bumper crop of domestic fruit with lower prices, but here a French grower group objects to a low price point for imported fruit.

Majority Of School Nutrition Programs Now Offer Vegetarian School Lunches

From the story In Medical News Today:

School Nutrition Association president Dr. Katie Wilson, SNS announced new data today on the widespread availability of vegetarian school lunch options. Almost two thirds of school nutrition programs now offer a vegetarian school lunch on a consistent basis, up from 22% in 2003, according to the Association's soon to be released 2009 School Nutrition Operations Report. The availability of vegetarian school lunches in a majority of districts is consistent with the overall trend in the past five years towards more nutritious school lunches emphasizing whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy. The vegetarian choices also come in spite of federal school lunch reimbursements that have not kept pace with increased food and labor costs. Dr. Wilson presented the research findings at the National Conference on Childhood Obesity in Washington, DC today.

TK:  Schools can offer vegetarian fare, but will the students buy in?

Sweden promotes climate-friendly food choices
From the story in

Guidelines for climate-friendly food choices developed by the Swedish authorities recommend citizens to reduce their meat and rice consumption as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The first of their kind, the guidelines are now being sent out for reactions and inspiration from other EU countries..
"Meat – beef, lamb, pork and chicken – is the food group that has the greatest impact on the environment," state the guidelines   , jointly drafted by the Swedish National Food Administration and the country's Environmental Protection Agency.The authorities note that Swedes' meat consumption has grown by an average ten kilos per person over the past ten years and now totals 65 kilos.

TK: The concept of climate friendly food choices will in time be familiar to U.S. consumers, and there will be varying reactions. Most, though not all,  will think the idea is another of Europe’s nanny state directives that have no relevance to the U.S.

Program aims to get kids hooked on fruits, veggies

From the story:

Maybe this year, students at Myhre Elementary School will eat Ugli fruit, a grapefruit-sized citrus fruit.
It's just one of many possibilities available to the school through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program gives eligible schools money to provide fruit and vegetables during the school day anywhere from once a week to daily.

TK: We see more and more coverage like this as the fresh fruit and vegetable goes national.

Consumer ignorance questioned

Following a survey of 3,000 people by AXA PPP healthcare’s Nutrition and Fitness website, ahead of the introduction of new EU regulations on marketing standards on July 1, it was revealed that consumers lack knowledge of the seasons of UK products and the origins of imports.
Only two per cent of people surveyed knew that asparagus was a native UK vegetable and only half were aware of its season. Nearly three-quarters of people under 18 surveyed could not identify an image of native British gooseberries, while 88 per cent of people did not know how pineapples grow.
A quarter of people believed the potato to be native to the UK and it was voted the nation’s favourite fresh produce item, beating Wimbledon favourite strawberries and Christmas staple Brussels sprouts as the fruit or vegetable the nation would most like to become England’s national emblem.

TK:Perhaps a better headline would be: "Consumer ignorance unquestioned"  Does anyone doubt a produce quiz of U.S. consumers could elicit even more  hilarious responses from the “man in the street” interviews?  The UK consumer may seem to be an egghead by comparison.

Ancient purple carrot finds new life coloring food

From the story in the Jerusalem Post:

The ancient purple carrot is returning to its roots, this time to dye processed foods rather than the robes of Afghan royals.
Researchers in California are preparing for increased demand for fruits and vegetables that pull double duty as dyes as the deadline approaches for when the European Union will require warning labels on synthetically colored foods.
"There's a mad dash in Europe to get synthetic dyes out and put natural ones in, and it's coming across the Atlantic," said Stephen Lauro, general manager of ColorMaker in Anaheim, which turns beets, berries, cabbages and carrots into dyes for products such as Gerber toddler foods and Tang breakfast drink. "It was dumb luck and we stepped into it."