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Hasty responses to foodborne illness outbreaks impact California growers

Feature Story

Brooke Latack
Livestock Advisor
University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Team Members: Latack, B*1, Ozeran, R2
  1. Livestock Advisor, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Holtville, California, 92250
  2. Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Fresno, California, 93710


Food safety has been a hot topic in the news as several E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in lettuce have been traced back to farms in California and Yuma, Arizona (located very near the Imperial Valley of California). These regions produce a substantial quantity of fresh produce in the winter season while also producing cattle and sheep in large numbers. This led to conversations about concerns surrounding the interaction between livestock and fresh produce. The risk of pathogen contamination has sparked debate and doubt about set back distances of produce fields from feedlots. This publication aimed to inform readers of the science-based food safety information related to livestock currently available, the response of both industries and the public to the outbreaks, and research and extension actions that would aid in increasing food safety practices. The publication was directed toward those in academic, extension, government, and commodity group positions. It was also directed toward those in the general public who want to better understand the issues that affect their food system. Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties are heavy livestock production areas, specifically feedlot and heifer lot operations. This article was very timely and critical to not only the clientele in these counties, but the rest of the state as well. This article was published March 17, 2020 and was shared with California Agriculture’s 9,000+ print subscribers as well as shared online. Additionally, the article was sent via email and county website posts to clientele in the two California regions covered by the authors. Both authors were invited to speak on an agriculture-based podcast/radio program to discuss the article in May 2020. Article content development was equally shared with co-author Rebecca Ozeran. California Agriculture formatted the final version.

Years of CES Service: 0

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