Recently, Fresh Express salads compared its new way of washing lettuce to the iPad. While trying to sound cool and trendy (spoiler alert: fail), Fresh Express apparently broke some supersecret business pact not to speak about the 2006 E. coli outbreak in the salad industry.
"Food safety should never be a competitive advantage," Tom
Stenzel, president and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, tells trade paper The Packer. "If a
new product improves food safety, we should share it with the whole
Fresh Express has not yet had its new technology peer reviewed, and the company did not work with the Center for Produce Safety, United Fresh or any of the other well-known groups for evaluating food safety. The company says the technology was submitted to the National Center for Food Safety and Technology, and results should be out early next year.
Regardless of whether the new lettuce wash does what the company alleges, competitors are upset. The Packer's Greg Johnson writes: "This kind of promotion violates the generally agreed upon, though
nonbinding, industry standard after the 2006 E. coli spinach outbreak
that the produce industry is in food safety together."
So: Is it unethical to use food safety as a way to up sales? Or are Fresh Express' competitors just angry they didn't think of it first?