Photo of Daniel B. Cohen

Daniel B. Cohen is the owner of Maccabee Seed Co., an agricultural research-and-development and consulting company in Davis California.

A new kind of professional There are missing professions that would integrate epidemiology, farming and ecology. These are professions that would deal not just with existing human pathogens on-farm and in the rural environment, but with emerging pathogens and their control or prevention. They would cover the interaction of human pathogens with current microbial ecology,…

The deadline for comments on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Produce Safety Rule is Nov. 15, 2013. This was probably supposed to be the easiest and most straightforward of the rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). It may be that FDA fell into the trap of a well-worn groove in designing

An unnoticed side effect of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed Produce Rules will be the impact on the economics of large-scale animal production in the United States because they will be unable to dispose of their manures and litter off-site. Cattlemen, large chicken producers and other industry groups may have thought that…

Violating the explicit language of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA), the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Proposed Produce Rule gives a complete pass to imported vegetables grown with sewage sludge, contaminated to various degrees with heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatiles, flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, steroids, hormones (1,2) radiologicals (3) and undescribed contaminants. At the

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Proposed Produce Rule is a substantively defective product. It’s not a question of the difficulty and costs of compliance and enforcement or of farm size or a commodity’s inherent safety – although these are important issues. The case I want to present is that FDA made seriously wrong choices…

Our process of framing and regulating produce food safety is upside down and backwards.

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Human pathogens constantly flow from urban environments and animal production into farm environments, contaminating water and soil, and finding a home in wildlife. Then we ask farmers to deliver pathogen-free fruits and vegetables.

Produce is increasingly sold as centrally processed fresh-cut…

I am interested in how major foodborne outbreaks and their investigations are interpreted and analyzed: to prevent future outbreaks, minimize the harm from outbreaks that occur, and frame the debates on regulating food safety on farms.

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When I was asked by a small organic farmer in California what the implications were of the 2011 O104:H4 …

Food safety issues and worries about food safety rose to a high level last year among farmers. The owner of one of the original small organic farms in my county asked me what lessons could be learned from the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak in Europe, but then came E. coli O157:H7 on strawberries in Oregon, …

The O104:H4 serotype has an unusual clinical pattern for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) pathogens, including bloody diarrhea in adults followed by a high conversion rate to adult hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) or to severe non-HUS enterohemorrhagic symptoms in adults.

There is another STEC group that parallels the unusual pattern of the current outbreak in …

What are the lessons learned so far from the O104:H4 outbreak?

German medical and public health authorities are burdened by the equivalent of more than 10 normal years worth of case loads occurring in a single month, the continuing need for secondary infection prevention, the outbreak source investigation and perhaps other issues as well. Despite …

As of Tuesday, the toll in the outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 in Germany was 3,697 illnesses, 856 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and 40 deaths.

Major Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) outbreaks in the past have been transformative events for epidemiology and approaches to food safety. An hour-long conversation last Thursday with Dr. …