REPORT DRAWS IRE OF PRODUCE INDUSTRY

WASHINGTON -- Cross contamination, rather than raw produce itself, is the main cause of foodborne illness involving fruits and vegetables, according to officials with the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, in response to a report that cited produce as causing the most cases of illness. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said that the database it used for publishing "Outbreak Alert

WASHINGTON -- Cross contamination, rather than raw produce itself, is the main cause of foodborne illness involving fruits and vegetables, according to officials with the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, in response to a report that cited produce as causing the most cases of illness. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said that the database it used for publishing "Outbreak Alert 2002" shows contaminated produce caused 18,084 cases of foodborne illness between 1990 and this year; by comparison, the next highest rate of 11,500 cases came from multi-ingredient foods like pizza and sandwiches. In response, United countered that experts agree that most produce-related cases are caused by cross contamination from meat or other products, and that raw produce is the source only in rare instances.