If plants grow with contaminated water, "It may be absorbed in into the leaf itself," said Tierno.
Donna Rosenbaum of Safe Tables Our Priority, or STOP, said she hopes the latest outbreak will push pending reforms for the FDA through the Senate.
"They [the FDA] don't have the resources they need, the authority they need to regulate a modern food system," said Rosenbaum, executive director for STOP, a national food borne illness prevention organization. "We feel a lot of this contamination that's out there is preventable."
STOP lobbied for the Food Safety Act of 2009 ( H.R. 2749 ) introduced by Rep. John Dingell and passed by the House last year. Rosenbaum said a point of contention, addressed in the bill, is that the FDA does not have the authority to recall products. Instead, officials must convince a company to recall voluntarily .
"A lot of time is lost in between the time government health officials know and the time the company gets all their 'ps and qs' in order," said Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum mentioned that STOP offers e-mail alerts to consumers who want to hear about the lasts recalls.
Tierno pressed the scope of monitoring the modern global food industry, from growers, processors distributors and international imports.
"Monitoring and safeguarding the food industry has been a priority. Things have gotten a little better but it's a very large job," said Tierno. "Consumers have to be aware."