E Coli Threat

The food and drug administration says it's still too soon to trace customer sickness at Taco Bells on the East Coast, to green onions grown in California.

But the latest threat of E. Coli already has brought changes in the food change, even here in the Tennessee Valley.

"It would make anyone avoid anything that would make them sick, I think," said Gregory Jarrett.

Nobody's reported getting sick from eating green onions at East Tennessee Taco Bells. But green onions are off the menu.

"I understand they're taking all kinds of measures to prevent anyone from getting sick again, so I'm gonna keep being a customer," said Cedric Graham.

E. Coli often spreads when livestock manure comes into contact with produce still in the field.

Taco Bell's called for inspecting supplier farms, down to the soil and the water.

"The produce industry has basically said today that they can't afford to have this problem continue, they need help to clean up the problem," said Urvashi Rangan a toxicologist.

Put simply California's produce industry can't afford another spinach fiasco.

"I think everything needs to be purified and cleaned, That's why we have certain technicians who are supposed to check situations and get them avoided, before they reach establishments," said Knoxville customer Gregory Jarrett.

Our country has fewer such technicians or inspectors than three years ago.

The FDA's been considering cutting the number of inspections too.

"Since the USDA is only looking at animals and plants while
they're in the ground, and the FDA is looking at food once its ready to be sold, there's a gap between the two. We need an agency that looks right down the middle, at food as its coming out of the ground before its sold," said Dr. Mark Siegel, a food safety specialist.

For farmers, for regulators, the issue is restoring confidence. Confidence Cedric Graham's never lost.
"
I've been eating Taco Bells for 20 years. Never gotten sick before, anything like that."


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