The tomato/pepper/cilantro fiasco goes on. More people sick, harvests destroyed, farmers ruined, $100 million down the drain, and still no answers as to why over 1,220 people have contracted a food borne illness that up until now was extremely rare.

Late yesterday, in what could be the ultimate flip-flop, the FDA announced that tomatoes are ok to eat. Sort of. They say it doesn’t mean that tomatoes harvested in the spring are cleared (try guessing which ones those are). It just means that the tomatoes in fields and stores today are safe to eat, said Dr. David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety chief.

The source of the outbreak of salmonella still isn’t known. The latest suspect is jalapeno peppers. Also still on the suspect list is fresh cilantro.

Thursday’s move to attempt to create some perception that the problem has been resolved, comes as the tomato industry estimates its losses at more than $100 million,

Just coincidentally, the tomato industry held an unprecedented meeting with FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach and other officials on Monday. They (of course) have welcomed the new announcement.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/saintpaul/, http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/07/17/fda.salmonella/index.html

The victim count in the tainted tomato outbreak has risen dramatically again, according to the latest U.S. health count. The CDC days it now has 810 reports of persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul in 34 states and the District of Columbia. More than 300 of the cases come from Texas.

At least 95 people have been hospitalized. Patients range in age from 1-99.

The recent jump is no surprise. The CDC had predicted that for every reported case, there would be 30 more. And health officials feared that the end was not yet in sight.

According to the latest CDC numbers, the victim count breaks down by state to: Arkansas (10 persons), Arizona (38), California (10), Colorado (6), Connecticut (4), Florida (1), Georgia (15), Idaho (3), Illinois (66), Indiana (11), Kansas (11), Kentucky (1), Maryland (25), Massachusetts (17), Michigan (4), Missouri (12), New Hampshire (3), Nevada (4), New Jersey (4), New Mexico (80), New York (18), North Carolina (5), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (17), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (6), Rhode Island (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (330), Utah (2), Virginia (22), Vermont (1), Washington (4), Wisconsin (6), and the District of Columbia (1). Read the rest of this entry »

The US salmonella outbreak has prompted McDonald’s restaurants across Canada to stop serving tomatoes temporarily. A notice posted at McDonald’s in Dartmouth and other parts of Nova Scotia on Saturday told customers that tomatoes are no longer on the menu for the time being but gave no reason.

A spokesman for McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada was not available Saturday, but the restaurant chain issued a statement saying it has temporarily removed tomatoes as a precautionary measure due to the situation in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »