Coral Beach of The Packer confirmed publicly what many knew for months – Costco continues to lead the way in food safety. According to The Packer, new pathogen testing requirements for produce companies supplying Costco Wholesale Corp. may be the first of their kind for a retailer, but Earthbound Farms and Ready Pac were already conducting the tests.

Screen Shot 2011-07-21 at 4.58.24 PM.pngCraig Wilson, Costco’s vice president of quality assurance and food safety, said July 18 that the company began requiring its produce suppliers to test finished products for the “Big 6” E. coli strains “a couple of months ago.” In addition, Costco is also requiring testing for E. coli O104:H4

“The tests don’t make the food safer, but they do tell us if the vendors’ food safety programs are working,” Wilson said.

Earthbound Farm, San Juan Bautista, Calif., began testing raw products in 2006 and finished products in 2007 in response to the E. coli outbreak in 2006. Consequently, the Costco requirement won’t add any costs or disrupt their supply chain, said Will Daniels, senior vice president of operations and organic integrity.

At Ready Pac Foods Inc. in Irwindale, Calif., tests for salmonella and various E. coli strains have been standard procedure for several years, said Brian Zomorodi, senior vice president of technology and quality. Both Earthbound Farm and Ready Pac work with IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group, Lake Forest Park, Wash., which has 76 labs across the country.

So, when are other major manufacturers and retailers going to step up and start testing for non-O157:H7 E. coli?  When is the government?

Also, I wonder if the lawsuits I have had against these three companies had anything to do with thier good behavior?