GP Solutions announced that company founder, Shannon Illingworth, is speaking out about the prevalence of contamination found in food through his new organization named "Know the Grow." The organization's purpose is to educate the public about pesticides, harmful chemicals, and contaminants in the U.S. food chain.
Just this month, over 600 cases of lettuce were recalled in Florida due to concerns for salmonella contamination.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that each year in the United States, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.
"Those numbers are staggering and unacceptable," says Shannon Illingworth, founder of "Know the Grow."
"That lettuce on your plate may have come from thousands of miles away, picked way ahead of its peak flavor and nutritional value, and may have been exposed to pathogens in dozens of ways during its voyage from seedling to your table," he said.
According to the CDC, "Germs can contaminate leafy greens at many points before they reach your plate. For example, germs from animal poop can get in irrigation water or fields where vegetables grow. Germs can also get on leafy greens in packing and processing facilities, in trucks used for shipping, from the unwashed hands of food handlers, and in the kitchen."
Importantly, the CDC does not warn the public about every foodborne outbreak—because most sources of foodborne outbreaks are never identified, and by the time a source is identified, it might no longer be in stores, restaurants, or homes.
"The problem is huge because our current food chain makes it almost impossible to control fresh food that touches water and dirt and changes hands countless times before it reaches consumers," according to Illingworth. "Even organic food is highly susceptible to contamination."
To his point, the Mayo Clinic wrote, "Just because a product says it's organic doesn't mean it's a healthier choice... the overall risk of contamination of organic foods with bacteria is the same as conventional foods."
Illingworth is the Founder of GP Solutions and the inventor of "GrowPods" – controlled environment farms that can grow a variety of fruits and vegetables with virtually no risk of pathogenic contamination.
"Small family farms and cultivators should self-identify as clean growers if they can attest that they take all precautions available to eliminate chemicals, pesticides, and pathogenic contamination," Illingworth said. "Ultimately, consumers need to demand to 'know the grow' to have confidence in the food they eat."
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