It looks like Pacific Grove-based KAZU 90.3 FM, a public radio station, has broken the “code of silence” as to who the rancher and grower may be in the vortex of this latest E. coli outbreak. The audio portion can be found here. And, an updated audio report can be found here too. As reported in The Californian Online – Salinas (CA):
Matt Christiano, the owner of Paicines Ranch in San Benito County, 12900 Airline Hwy Paicines, CA 95043 (type address into Google Earth) was cited as saying in a statement to Pacific Grove-based KAZU 90.3 FM, a public radio station, that he has been working with government investigators seeking to determine a source of the multi-state outbreak linked to fresh, bagged spinach that killed three people and sickened more than 200.
Christiano told KAZU his operation didn’t grow or process the suspect spinach but that he rents fields to two tenants. While one of the tenants has been cleared, he said the other tenant, Otto Kramm, is still being investigated. Kramm, a partner in Salinas-based Mission Organics, was cited as telling the radio station that he grows spinach and other crops for Natural Selection, the San Juan Bautista processing company that is one of two companies named so far by government investigators as associated with the outbreak.
Interestingly, I found the following description of the ownership of Mission Organics on the UC Davis Extension website:
“The tour began with a visit to Earthbound Farm near San Juan Bautista. With more than 24,500 acres in production, the company is one of the world’s largest organic growers. En route to the plant, Ramy Colfer, chief organic agricultural researcher for …. Mission Organic.”
More investigation work to do — or, the FDA and CDOH code of silence could be broken? What about the public’s right to know?
UPDATE 6:23 pm: Local Ranch Denies Reports It’s Under Investigation For E. Coli
On Thursday afternoon, Paicines Ranch owners issued this denial:
“It has been reported that the Paicines Ranch is under investigation. This is not true. The Paicines Ranch is not under investigation by any government agency. We lease row crop land to farmers. Whether or not these farmers are under investigation is unknown to us. If you want to know whether a particular farmer is under investigation, you should ask them. Since we neither farm nor process row crops of any kind, we are unable to comment further.”
As my 14 year old daughter is fond of saying – “whatever.” I also found an interesting article on the Paicines Ranch dated early August of this year in The Pinnacle – interesting reading. Ironic that about the time the article was being written the spinach that would likely be the source of this outbreak was just about to be harvested. But, then again:
Spinach on the shelves is as safe as it was before this event,” said David Acheson, chief medical officer for the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.