Western Growers Association An article in the San Francisco Chronicle from January 26th focused on a set of voluntary food safety procedures that the California Department of Food and Agriculture and farm industry groups are asking food handlers to adhere to.  The voluntary guidelines, which are a marketing agreement (pdf file) designed by the Western Growers Association and the Department of Food and Agriculture.

"Last year we made a commitment to declare war on food-borne illness in the fresh produce industry. This is the opening salvo in that war,” said Tom Nassif, the president and CEO of the Western Growers Assn., representing approximately 3,000 growers and shippers in California and Arizona.

William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who represents victims of food poisoning, questioned the effectiveness of the proposed agreement.

"It’s a voluntary program that has no guidelines whatsoever,” Marler said. "The real question is whether the industry is capable of policing itself. If history is any guide, they are not.”

The debate is being followed on Marler’s blog, www.marlerblog.com, and on the E. coli blog.