This is a request for information and assistance. In the aftermath of two food
contamination incidents in rapid succession, a local problem with E. coli
O157:H7 in apple cider in Connecticut, and the highly-publicized incident with
the same strain of bacteria in Odwalla apple juice in the Northwest U.S., I have
been seeing warnings about the dangers of eating organic food because it is
fertilized with manure. I want to write a response to an especially hysterical
article that ran in Sunday's Hartford Courant. (It was reprinted from the
Seattle Times, so people there may want to look for it.)
I have spoken with a microbiologist here at the Conn. Agricultural Experiment
Station who is considering a research project on this strain of bacteria, so he
is well-informed about the current literature. He says that this bacterium has
been found living for 30-60 days in cow manure in feedlots. He also says that
very little is known about its survival in soil, or its long-term survival in a
1. Have there been any studies of the incidence of contamination of organic vs.
conventional food with disease-causing bacteria? The microbiologist does not
know of any.
2. I know in NOFA/CT (Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut)
standards for organic certification, there are specific limitations on the use
of manure (e.g. raw manure can not be applied in the spring on land for growing
vegetables). What are the limitations on the use of manure in other
certification standards, and in the proposed national standards?
3. Is the apple juice in question from Odwalla certified as organic? (The
cider in Connecticut was not.) If not, why did people suddenly start attacking
Thanks very much for any help you can give me.
CT Agricultural Experiment Station
P.O. Box 1106
New Haven, CT 06504