Issuing a press release before publishing food safety data is a bad idea; launching an entire advertising campaign before publishing is worse.
But that’s exactly what Fresh Express is doing.
I’m all for marketing food safety directly to consumers and at retail – but only if such claims can be verified, and the most credible way to do that is publish in a peer-reviewed journal. Supermarkets are already overflowing with hucksterism.
In Sept. 2000, I called Procter & Gamble to substantiate claims their consumer-oriented FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash removed 99.9 per cent more residue and dirt than water alone.
The PR-thingies hooked me up with some scientists at P&G in Cincinnati, who verbally told me that sample cucumbers, tomatoes and the like were grown on the same farm in California, sprayed with chemicals that would be used in conventional production, and then harvested immediately and washed with FIT or water. The FIT removed 99.9 per cent more, or so the company claimed.
One problem. Many of the chemicals used had harvest‑after dates, such as the one tomato chemical that must be applied at least 20 days before harvest.
Residue data on produce in North American stores reveals extremely low levels, in the parts per million or billion. So that 99.9 per cent reduction was buying consumers an extra couple of zeros in the residue quantity, all well below health limits.
I also asked why the results hadn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the P&G types said it was an important advance that had to be made available to consumers as soon as possible, without the delays and messiness of peer-review.
In Oct. 2010, Chiquita Brands, the owners of Fresh Express and also based in Cincinnati, followed the same PR playbook for its new produce rinse, Fresh Rinse.
The new rinse, for use in the packing shed and which the company says removes microorganisms from leafy greens more effectively than conventional chlorine sanitizers, was unveiled yesterday at a news conference at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit to gushing reviews.
Today, Fresh Express gushed again that its salads sold nationwide are now manufactured using its new breakthrough produce wash, Fresh Rinse. The company claims that Fresh Rinse has been scientifically validated to dramatically reduce certain bacteria while at the same time continuing to provide high levels of freshness, taste and quality consumers expect from Fresh Express salads.
The effectiveness of this new patent-pending technology has been validated by studies performed at the National Center for Food Safety and Technology – a recognized third-party research and testing facility. These independent studies confirmed that Fresh Rinse demonstrated superior effectiveness in removing pathogens from wash water and from certain leafy greens compared to traditional chlorine washes. An article detailing the Fresh Rinse technology has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Journal of Food Protection.
I have an article in press by JFP right now but I don’t blabber about it until it’s published. Because until then, other mortals or food safety nerds can’t see what anyone is bragging about. Why is Fresh Express above the process?
Sometimes the faster it gets
The less you need to know
But you gotta remember
The smarter it gets the further it's going to go
When you blow at high dough
Tragically Hip, Canadian national anthem, 1989.
A table of leafy green foodborne illness outbreaks is available at: