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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

So, where the Hell did the Salmonella Tomatoes and E. coli Romain Lettuce come from?

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?

  • Douglas

    I really think all this hype about e-coli in our vegetables has gone to far. Out of all the states and the millions of people, I think 145 is quite minute. Trust me the FDA and the USDA cannot and will not protect us all from this type of bacteria. People need to wake up.

  • A Second Source Says: “It Must Be Mexico”

    Bob Drobatz is president of operations for Petaluma Market in Santa Rosa, CA. He told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that the tomatoes he was pulling from grocery shelves came from Mexico. Mexico is one of the biggest suppliers of…

  • Fran

    I would imagine that the majority of these foodborne outbreaks can be attributed to one simple cause – people not washing their hands with soap & water after they use the toilet. I cannot count the number of times that I have been in a public bathroom and heard a person leave the toilet stall and simply walk right out of the bathroom. How disgusting; were these folks brought up in a barn or something? Come on people, all it takes is a 20 second stop at the sink!

  • Larry

    Seems Fran doesn’t comprehend foodborne outbreaks. The food, not a worker handling them, is the source of the salmonella.

  • Lorraine

    I came across this in a google search.
    Douglas: If that is the case, then let’s just not worry about it, take our time in the investigation, and possibly let it spread. ;)

  • Jelene

    I’m a believer! It all traces back to not washing your hands! Just nasty!

  • Priscilla

    How about catsup. It’s still on the shelves. Why has it not been pulled by Walmart, etc.?

  • Rick Casey

    Don’t worry about properly canned tomatoes, catsup, sauces, etc. E.coli can not withstand the heat of processing and canning. These tomato-based food items are perfectly safe. It was raw tomatoes that caused the problem.

  • Felix

    Food outbreaks are generally caused by animal feces. The spinach E. Coli fiasco a couple years ago was deer feces I think. There are countless strands of E. Coli. Everyone is harboring E. Coli in our digestive system at the very moment, but we’re generally resistant to those. We tend to not be resistant to certain strands of E. Coli found in animals, ergo the outbreak announcements when they find out about contaminations in foods. Washing hands is a bigger problem in hospitals than food service, although it always important to wash your hands. I certainly wouldn’t want someone that didn’t wash their hands handling my food.

  • I also came across this search on Google. It seems like a really serious issue so let’s not spread it without investigating because it will create rumors among people.