Toronto Food: Organic Food Safety Questions And Answers

Are there consumer safety issues with eating organic produce?

Just as with conventionally-grown food, food safety is the number one concern for all producers. Certified organic growers follow strict guidelines for safe and hygienic food production and they must comply with local, state and federal health standards. Organic production allows techniques like pasteurization (to remove harmful bacteria from milk, cheese, etc), selected use of chlorine (as a disinfectant), and other food safety practices. Consumers always need to follow safe food handling practices, no matter what type of food they purchase.

Won't organic products be contaminated by pathogenic micro-organisms?

There is no reputable scientific evidence to indicate that organic products pose an added risk from use of natural fertilizers (manure) affecting the risk for infection with Escherichia coli O157:H7 compared to eating conventionally grown foods.

How does the organic industry ensure safe & wholesome produce?

Certified organic growers are 3rd-party inspected to qualify for organic certification, and also follow strict guidelines for safe and hygienic food production following all local, state and federal health standards. Pasteurization, selected use of chlorine, and other food safety practices also are used in organic production.

Conventional and organic agriculture both use manure as a part of regular farm soil fertilization programs. Certified organic farmers follow a careful plan to build soil fertility, including strict controls on the use of manure.

What can consumers do to minimize exposure to food-borne illnesses?

Statistics from CDC (the US Center for Disease Control, in Atlanta) show that a vast majority of food-borne disease is associated with cross-contamination and handling later in the distribution chain and in the home. Inadequately cooked meats is the most common way of getting infected, followed by person-to-person transmission when infected people do not adequately wash their hands.

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