The Daily Scribe

Thought Provoking Issues!

Make Mine Without Tomatoes!

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That seems to be the public’s response over the latest salmonella scare. With federal investigators unable to locate the source for the outbreak, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and other US chains have halted sales of some raw tomatoes.

The outbreak which spans across 17 states since mid-April is responsible for 167 people being infected with salmonella and at least 23 others being hospitalized.

A 67-year-old cancer patient residing in Texas, who health officials said was sickened by salmonella at a Mexican restaurant, is believed to the first death associated with the outbreak. Although the death of Raul Rivera last week has been officially attributed to his cancer, Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Houston health department, disclose to the Houston Chronicle that salmonella strain was a contributing factor.

Rivera’s wife stated that her husband was hospitalized after eating pico de gallo, a tomato-based condiment, while celebrating the good news about his cancer treatment in the latter part of May.

Salmonella: are bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts of human and other animals. The bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating food contaminated with animal feces.

Most infected people suffer the following symptoms within 12 to 72 hours after being infected: abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. The illness tends to last four to seven days.

Many people recover without treatment. However, there is the possibility of severe infection and even death. Infants, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk for severe infection.

The FDA warned U.S. consumers on Saturday that the outbreak was linked to certain raw plum, red Roma and red round tomatoes, and any product containing those tomatoes.

The panic stricken public and the FDA’s inability to track the source of the outbreak have U.S. and Mexican growers alarmed.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. growers produced $1.28 billion worth of tomatoes last year. In addition to Mexico, which sends nearly 700,000 metric tons to the United States each year, worth $900 million in business, the delay in finding the source is becoming costly.

The FDA has no clue where the contaminated tomatoes originated, but most of the people afflicted with the infection have been in New Mexico and Texas.

The FDA claims that it is safe to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and tomatoes sold with the vines still attached.

However, with the spinach scare of 2006 still prevalent in the minds of buyers and consumers, in which three people died and 200 were sickened after eating spinach contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

 The outcries heard from wary buyers and informed consumers for and at eating establishments . . . hold the tomatoes!

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author



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