Tracking Down Tomato Troubles

Posted on June 18, 2008  Comments (1)

Tracking the bug in tomatoes

David Acheson is the nation’s top food detective, but so far he has met his match in the wily tomato.

With the salmonella scare that has plagued tomatoes, Acheson has faced perhaps his biggest test—at least as far as outbreaks of illness go—since he assumed the newly created “food safety czar” post at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about a year ago.

That position was born amid a growing concern that the FDA couldn’t get a grip on food safety, as tales of food-borne illnesses multiplied. Now comes salmonella-laden tomatoes that have sickened at least 277 people nationwide, hospitalizing 43.

The FDA concluded that the tainted tomatoes most likely came from Mexico or a certain part of Florida. The agency managed to narrow down the possible origins of the tainted tomatoes largely by a process of elimination. Based on the timing of their growing seasons and tomato harvests, many states or countries could not be the source of the tomatoes that caused illnesses, so they were deemed safe sources.

Restaurants and food retailers say they are now sourcing tomatoes from places deemed safe by the FDA. The outbreak has been a particularly tough one to crack because it has been so widespread. Illness has shown up in people who frequented a variety of restaurants, and who bought tomatoes at myriad grocery stores.

Related: Science Fair Project on Bacterial Growth on Packaged SaladsLosing Consumers’ Trust in Food SafetyVirus Found to be One Likely Factor in Bee Colony Colapse DisorderFDA May Make Decision That Will Speed Antibiotic Drug Resistance

One Response to “Tracking Down Tomato Troubles”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Protecting the Food Supply
    July 1st, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

    Too often, in the rare instances that science is even discussed in the news, the presentation provides the illusion of simple obvious answers. Instead it is often a very confusing path until the answers are finally found…

Leave a Reply