Yumans can help keep food supply safe
It comes as no surprise to Yumans that local farmers are ahead of the curve when it comes to new proposed guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration.
The federal proposal is aimed at reducing an estimated 3,000 deaths annually and countless illnesses from foodborne disease.
According to a recent story in the Yuma Sun, the FDA is focusing on the “four Ws” that can lead to contamination — water, waste, workers and wildlife — which include clean irrigation water and keeping animals out of fields.
In Yuma, these steps have been common practice for years, according to Kurt Nolte, executive director of the Yuma County Cooperative Extension, who notes that Yuma growers have been very proactive. Farmers here check their irrigation water for contaminants, provide portable bathrooms and hand-washing stations in the fields, erect fences to keep out animals and, when animal waste is found in a field, avoid harvesting those areas.
Yuma growers have set the example for the federal guidelines, serving as a model for the proposal, while ensuring that the food they provide is the safest and healthiest it can be in a multimillion-dollar industry.
However, the responsibility doesn't rest solely on the shoulders of the local farmers — those in Yuma County need to do their part as well.
Keeping pets out of the fields and canals is one major way any Yuman can help. Animal waste can contain E. coli bacteria, which has been linked to foodborne illnesses in humans. When a pet leaves droppings near a field or canal, that waste can be tracked into either the water or the field, leading to contamination that could in turn lead to serious illness for someone later down the line.
It's a problem with a simple solution. Yuma, help your farmers out and clean up after your pets.