Monday, June 30, 2008

About that.

So, you know the whole tomato-salmonella thing? You know, the one where more than 800 people have been reported to have been infected with the same strain (and countless others just at home with "the stomach flu")? Well, the delightful CDC held a press conference last Friday to announce the following finding: tomatoes may or may not be responsible.

Come again?

From the Washington Post:

"We continue to see a strong association with tomatoes, but we are keeping an open mind about other ingredients," said Patricia Griffin, a top epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have to re-examine the whole thing," David Acheson, a top food safety official with the Food and Drug Administration said. "We are concerned there is something out there still exposing people to this salmonella saintpaul strain." ... "Nothing that Dr. Griffin said indicates that we should be taking a serious look at anything else, but rightly that question is being asked," he said. "We need to be looking at all possibilities."

So it's definitely the tomatoes, except maybe something else is out there, but nothing indicates that there is, but we still should be looking for something else.

Want to know one of the big problems? Tomatoes from all over Florida and Mexico get shipped to Florida, dumped all together, and then "repacked to meet the customer specifications" -- so they have no idea where tainted tomatoes (if indeed there are any!) came from, and it's all our fault anyways since we consumers are asking for it.

At least we have FDA inspectors out there making sure this doesn't happen, right? Er, not really. The Dallas Morning News tells us that just a trickle of imports from Mexico are being examined by inspectors. "We have this huge growth in imports, this huge growth in trade; at the same time we have severely cut back on our regulatory agencies and their ability to do their job, especially the food portion of the Food and Drug Administration," said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine.

What's a poor boy to do? Head to the Durham Farmers Market (or other similar market). Or sign up for a local CSA. Or grow your own. Or a combo of all three.

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