Saturday, July 5, 2008

Latest on tomatoes (or not tomatoes)

FDA reports more cases of salmonella illnesses
2 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government on Saturday increased the number of people reported being sickened in a record salmonella outbreak in which tomatoes are the leading suspect although investigators are testing other types of fresh produce.
There have been 943 reported cases nationwide, with at least 130 hospitalizations since mid-April after the first salmonella illnesses appeared, the Food and Drug Administration said Saturday. That compares with a total of 922 people about two days ago and 869 reported earlier in the past week.
The FDA also said it had begun looking at jalapeno peppers as a possible cause of the outbreak, as well as ingredients used to make salsa such as cilantro and Serrano peppers. Tomatoes continue to be investigated as well, spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek said
more from the AP article

The Los Angeles Times published a great editorial on the current FDA problems.

Fixing our food
The best way to protect consumers and producers is a system that will track what we eat.
June 14, 2008
Salmonella-contaminated tomatoes -- the latest evidence that all is not well with our food -- have not only sickened at least 228 people but unnecessarily tainted the reputation of an entire agricultural sector. As consumers recoil from all tomatoes, and restaurants pull them off the menu, perfectly good produce is unsalable. That includes tomatoes grown here in California, whose farms have been exonerated.To some extent, this is simple panic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that cherry and grape tomatoes and those with the vine still attached are not implicated, but people are so frightened that they don't hear much beyond the words "tomato" and "warning."But consumers also shun tomatoes because they can't get all the information they need to make safe choices. And that is the failure of the FDA and the industry to implement systems to track food from farm to grocery bag.

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