FDA 1, Tomato Farmers 0
Have you been to a restaurant lately and tried to get tomatoes as a part of your meal? Some eateries simply won't provide you tomatoes. Others say that you must ask for them specifically. It's because the media-abetted FDA is trying, with an unproven theory, to scare the crap out of everyone.
This was the original warning given out by the FDA to Americans everywhere:
FDA has issued a warning to consumers nationwide that an outbreak of Salmonella serotype Saintpaul, an uncommon type of Salmonella, has been linked to consumption of some raw red plum, red Roma, round red tomatoes, and products containing these raw tomatoes.We're all going to die!! (The one guy who did die?--he was suffering from cancer.)
Having not found any specific batches of tomatoes that contained salmonella, the FDA has now broadened its brush to further damage the vegetable industry.
...in recent days [FDA officials have] also expanded their focus to other salad bowl constituents - cilantro, jalapeño peppers, serrano peppers, scallions and bulb onions.Ellen Goodman, an expert in produce, including the routes that various kinds of produce take to get to market, is surprised at the FDA's reaction.
Goodman disagrees that tomatoes ever were involved in the outbreak, based on growers' assurances and the government's inability to find a single tainted tomato. "I know it's not tomatoes because the evidence just isn't there," said Goodman, who supplies tomatoes and other fresh produce to small supermarkets, diners and vegetable vendors on Long Island and elsewhere in the tri-state.Meanwhile, the tomato industry is on its heels.
Losses in the tomato industry have been considerable. Goodman has not yet estimated her own. Some industry assessments have been as high as $250 million. Goodman said tons of unaffected tomatoes were trashed as people panicked.How scared were the real experts in produce? Not much.
In June, [Goodman] donated tomatoes to charities. "We gave some of them to the homeless."This is an interesting statistic from the Centers for Disease Control:
Admittedly, the St. Paul strain is rare, but why is the FDA freaking out because we've had 1,000 salmonella-related illnesses in three months?
How common is salmonellosis?
In 2004, CDC estimated that there are about 1.4 million illnesses, 15,000 hospitalizations, and 400 deaths from Salmonella infection in the United States every year. Approximately 40,000 of those infections are confirmed each year by isolation of the Salmonella strain. Salmonellosis is more common in summer than in winter.
There has got to be a better way of inspecting produce so that we can determine the source of such illnesses with something other than a shotgun approach. And there has got to be a more rational way of reporting such problems than to cause a near-economic catastrophe. The Establishment is doing a good enough job of that already.