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Biggest Headline of 2008: The Salmonella Scare

Feasting on tomatoes this Summer seemed a bit like playing Russian Roulette. In early June reports of tomatoes contaminated with salmonella made headlines. The contamination grew like a virus in an incubator. First we learned that the tainted tomatoes were in 16 states, but the number rapidly increased to include 30 states.


As the FDA investigated the salmonella outbreak, serrano and jalapeno peppers as well as cilantro were added to the list of suspicious foods. Suddenly salsa just seemed off-limits, and around 1,500 cases of salmonella were reported overall. Tracking down the source of the infection proved difficult. International borders were involved, and tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro are often sold without tags. Plus, by the time a person becomes symptomatic, the tainted produce is no longer around to test. Ultimately, a possible source was found on a couple farms in Mexico when irrigation water and serrano peppers tested positive for the strain of salmonella. Mexico strongly disagreed with the FDA's findings and the case is not completely closed, but food safety continues to concern many Americans.

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