Salmonella in….Tomatoes????

Yes, according to the Center for Disease Control, there’s an outbreak of Salmonella. This outbreak has shown up in no less than 19 states and has involved 171 cases of infection since September 1st of this year.

This is nominally important news by itself. From a public health concern, it’s good that people are aware of it, but it doesn’t seem to be as troublesome as the recent E.Coli outbreak, as Salmonella is not as “vigorous” of a disease as E.Coli. To put it another way, there’s less of a chance of death from Salmonella than there is with E.Coli.

No, what makes this a truly big story is thus: The bacteria may have spread through some form of produce, possibly tomatoes.

First, the usual caveats. The CDC has NOT specified that this is the case, but have not discounted it either. It is speculation and one should be careful to keep that in mind. Add to that the fact that salmonella outbreaks ‘go through the system’ (so to speak) rather quickly, and it’s quite probable that this report of the outbreak is too late to have an affect upon short-term prevention.

If produce of any sort is the culprit, then the larger story here is how a disease that’s typically transferred through fecal matter of animals once again ended up in our fruits and/or vegetables. With the Spinach/E.Coli debacle, it was easy to simply state that the way bagged spinach is procured and produced is anomalous when compared against the processes of other fruits and vegetables bound for market. If the rumors surrounding the salmonella outbreak are true, then it becomes less of a ‘problem with spinach production’ and more of a ‘problem with the entire produce industry’.

Let me put this in a way that I believe to be obvious, but needs to be said anyways: When food borne illnesses typically associated with meat become regularly associated with fruits and vegetables, it’s a failure of the produce industries AND the meat industries. The companies who had to pull their products off the shelf are not the only problem.

via U.S. Food Policy

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