by Marion Nestle
Jun 6 2008

Food safety: this time, tomatoes

So now tomatoes are contaminated with Salmonella, this time with the uncommon serotype, Saintpaul, and the FDA says not to eat tomatoes from a bunch of states in the Southwest.  But the New Mexico government says the contaminated tomatoes come from Mexico.  If this is correct, it’s globalization time again.  The FDA notes that tomatoes from everywhere are now coming into harvest. That is why, in 2007, the agency started a “tomato safety initiative” to get growers to take action to prevent Salmonella contamination. Initiatives are voluntary, here and in Mexico. Surely, it is time for mandatory? And mandatory import inspections?  Michael Doyle, a food safety expert based at the University of Georgia, says globalization raises food safety risks. This may seem evident, but I like his quote: “It is the industry that is responsible for producing safe foods. It is the government’s responsibility to verify that they are producing safe foods.”

As for the perspective of strong supporters of the produce industry, check out what the Perishable Pundit has to say about the way the FDA is handling this incident.   What he calls the “gracious” comments of California tomato growers are also worth a look.

Comments

[...] Tara Parker-Pope wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptMichael Doyle, a food safety expert based at the University of Georgia, says globalization raises food safety risks. This may seem evident, but I like his quote: “It is the industry that is responsible for producing safe foods. … [...]

[...] according to Marion Nestle’s What to Eat blog, the FDA created a “tomato safety initiative” in 2007 which is voluntary for growers in [...]

I have a Lotus Sanitizing system that when used on produce it kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses as well as eliminates pesticides. CNN ran a report on tap water not being an effecive way to decontaminate produce and the only thing they found that worked is bleach and that only removes 60% of bacteria. The Lotus is 3000x faster and 50% stronger than chlorine bleach yet if you drank there is no emergency precaution.

[...] And while on rare occasions it’s caused by something previously thought innocuous, like salad vegetables, most cases are related to poorly handled chicken or undercooked [...]

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