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ICEBERG LETTUCE SUPPLIES ARE STRONG AND HEALTHFUL DESPITE WHITEFLY

ICEBERG LETTUCE SUPPLIES ARE STRONG AND HEALTHFUL DESPITE WHITEFLY
 SALINAS, Calif., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Salads are a sure thing for the dining table at home and at restaurants around the nation despite damage caused by the poinsettia whitefly to melons and some other commodities, according to Wade Whitfield, president of the California Iceberg Lettuce Commission.
 "From the first of November through April our industry typically produces over 1.3 billion heads of Iceberg lettuce in the California and Arizona desert growing areas. Currently we anticipate minimal impacts to total production during this time, and most importantly the quality appears to be good," stated Whitfield.
 The commission acknowledges that the fly did cause serious damage to other commodities, and that some lettuce yields may be lower on some individual farms this year. Generally, however, the industry is optimistic. Growers are encouraged by cooler weather which appears to be slowing the effects of the flies. Additionally, many of the desert growers planted later this season than last year as a precaution against potential fly damage.
 "There has been a tremendous amount of news coverage regarding the whitefly. So much, in fact, that perceptions of the impacts on specific commodities do not reflect fact. We are concerned that the public may have the wrong impression of what has truly happened to Iceberg lettuce in the desert farming areas. From our calls the main questions we receive, and the answers are as follows," stated Whitfield:
 Q. Have the whiteflies wiped out lettuce?
 A. No. We anticipate that yields may be reduced but that there will be a good supply of good quality lettuce coming out of the desert this year.
 Q. Is lettuce safe to eat?
 A. Absolutely. Whitefly is only a production problem, it is not a food safety concern. Whether there is whitefly or not we always encourage people to remove and discard the outer leaves from lettuce, and to wash lettuce in clear water before serving. In fact all fresh produce should be washed in clear water before serving. It is common sense because produce comes from the earth, not a sterile laboratory.
 Q. Will lettuce cost more than in the past?
 A. Lettuce like all other commodities is priced according to supply and demand.
 -0- 11/15/91
 /CONTACT: Wade Whitfield of California Iceberg Lettuce Commission, 408-375-8277/ CO: California Iceberg Lettuce Commission ST: California IN: SU: EH-CH -- LA017 -- 1708 11/15/91 16:29 EST
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 15, 1991
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