FDA Menu du Jour

FDA Menu du Jour

Today: Tomatoes good; jalapeños bad.

Yesterday:  Jalapeños good; tomatoes bad.

Tomorrow: Will the media help us realize that the current Salmonella saintpaul mini-outbreak does not necessarily have a single-point source?


The USDA reports that 10% of all chickens inspected at U.S. slaughterhouses last year had Salmonella contamination. So did 4% of all ground hamburger.

Produce-borne contamination tracking is new to the FDA and CDC, and the epidemiological effort does not follow the actual farm-to-market chain. Harvested produce is culled in the field and then re-sorted again by size and quality in packing houses, where fruit and vegetables from multiple sources are combined. Additional re-sorting and mixing occurs in the distribution chain and at the retail level.  Out-of-season produce from the Southern Hemisphere may be easier to track and isolate than North American produce.

But so what?

There are 50,000 culture-confirmed cases of Salmonella gastroenteritis in the USA every year. The current number of veggie-borne Salmonella saintpaul cases in this ballyhooed “outbreak”: 900.

This scare is tabloid journalism of the worst kind and displaces real front-page news.

And that is really sick.


Image cooked up by Mike Licht.

3 Responses to “FDA Menu du Jour”

  1. lacochran Says:

    They are anti-salsa-ists and that’s just wrong.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    I think it might be more like contra-pico-de-gallo-ismo. Salsa picante usually has pickled peppers, but those in pico de gallo are fresh and more prone to Salmonella contamination.

  3. Richard Dress Says:

    All of the peppers were grown in a warehouse in Texas. I read that on Google news. After months of sleuthing, we finally know the provenance of the alleged peppers. They were not illegals.

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