Scare du Jour Redux

Back in June, I wrote a blog entitled “The Scare-du-Jour” discussing the latest big food scare in the U.S., i.e., an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) dire warning that eating tomatoes probably is the cause of Salmonella poisoning in what has now been guessed to be over 1,200 people all over the country over a period of (so far) a couple of months. That’s somewhere around 20 people a day in a country of 300 million. So naturally grocery stores and restaurants all over the country stopped selling and serving tomatoes. Tomato growers in California have lost upwards of $200 million since the first warnings.

But WAIT!! Our FDA scientists and regulators have decided that California tomatoes were never a danger after all, but tomatoes from Texas or New Jersey.

NO, WAIT! it’s not tomatoes at all, but maybe perhaps chili pepers!! Oops, now our brilliant FDA guys say maybe perhaps it’s only chilis grown in Mexico, so don’t eat salsa. How much money have owners of Mexican restaurants lost as a result? One FDA investigator was quoted as saying, “You hate to hurt an industry and cause 100 million in damage. On the other hand, I don’t think any of us could sleep if we didn’t say something and then a kid died the next day” (I hope he loses sleep from eating salsa). I know that most parents feed their babies hot salsa instead of baby formula, so that statement makes SO much sense, doesn’t it?

Healthy people who eat solid food don’t die from Salmonella, they get sick for a night. And, after having diarrhea all night, all those “victims” were sure to collect a nice sample to take to the doctor the next day for a lab test to be sure it was Salmonella and not one of four or five other species of food borne bacteria that could cause the same symptoms. And of course, people who do visit a doctor the next day because they are old and feeble, in bad general health, must recall everything they’ve eaten in the last 48 hours. “Well doc, I had bad smelling chicken sitting on the kitchen counter, so I doused it in salsa to cover the smell before I ate it”. Or, “I went to an outdoor clam/oyster feed the other day and ate lots of the chips and salsa dip appetizer”. I guess the best words to describe this latest scare (last year it was strawberrys) is “farce”, or perhaps, “just plain stupid”.

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