The Food and Drug Administration last weekend expanded its warning about a salmonella outbreak connected to eating raw tomatoes to 16 states. The initial warning came June 3 about tomatoes in New Mexico and Texas. Saturday, officials expanded the warning nationwide. By Sunday, officials put the reported illness count at 145 to 150 in 16 states. There were 25 hospitalizations but no deaths. There is a quote by one New Mexico Health official that the tomatoes came from Mexico (I can hear Lou Dobbs now). And, this is the best we get from the FDA:
”We’re trying to get an answer as quickly as possible as to where these tomatoes came from,” says David Acheson, director of the FDA’s Food Safety and Security Staff.
The same is true in the romaine lettuce outbreak in Washington State. In late May, at least nine people – a possible tenth went untested – were sickened by E. coli bacteria in two counties in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. Officials for the Washington State Department of Health are pointing to romaine lettuce served in educational institutions as the source of contamination. And I find this quote this morning:
"While the source of the romaine is unknown, at this time of year it is likely to have come from the Salinas Valley, said Dennis Donohue, chairman of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California and Salinas mayor."
In the days of the risk of bio-terrorism, and with the advent of computer technology to pin-point where our books from Amazon are, you would think we would be able to trace-back contaminated tomatoes and lettuce a bit quicker?