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Tomato Growers Seek Payback For Salmonella

Rotten Tomato Call Spoils the Bunch? Growers Want Payback

Tomatoes took the rap for the recent Salmonella outbreak for weeks — and now that it looks like it's been traced to the spicier serrano pepper (linked to 1,300 infections in 43 states), tomato growers are understandably hot under the collar. Since the FDA announced that certain tomatoes shouldn't be eaten, the advisory that lasted from June 7 to July 17 cost growers $100 million.

Growers say the advisory came without consulting them, and that the investigation was conducted poorly (indeed, batteries of tests didn't find a single domestic tomato with the bacteria). Now, the FDA associate commissioner for foods has said that tomatoes are safe to eat, while being careful to say no mistakes were made — even though most leads reported to the Department of Health and Human Services overwhelmingly showed that sick folks had eaten salsa at Mexican restaurants.

One Florida Democrat has introduced legislation to compensate growers up to $100 million, saying, "There should be some compensation. They have done nothing. They shouldn't be held accountable. You have indicted an entire industry and left doubt that it's OK to eat tomatoes.''

Is he right? Was the FDA too quick to point the tortilla chip in the wrong direction — or was it just doing its job by trying to be better safe than serrano?


Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 9 years
Reparations have been on a case by case basis for the most part and they range from fairly decent to adding insult to injury.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
>it's like a trial when the wrong person goes to jail and they finally get released. they don't get their lives back, but they get their freedom. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they also get paid some kind of compensation/reparations for their time...
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that the FDA did what they thought they needed to in order to protect the larger population, but i do think that they should get some type of compensation. granted it's like a trial when the wrong person goes to jail and they finally get released. they don't get their lives back, but they get their freedom. i think that in the case of the tomato growers, they should get some compensation since there was a MAJOR trauma to their earnings for no reason - but i'm not sure what can be done seeing as how our economy is in such dire straights right now on it's own.
organicsugr organicsugr 9 years
They WERE right to play it safe. I don't think the government can be blamed in this instance at all. The FDA doesn't have a big enough budget to decide exactly which fruit or vegetable is the culprit. In fact, they got pretty close. At the same time, I lament the fact that there are no subsidies for tomatoes in this country, and I think this would be a perfect opportuntity to start. They should be reimbursed $100 million and offered an opportunity to be guaranteed a price for their crops in the future.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Maybe a compromise, they should be reimbursed $50 million?
stephley stephley 9 years
The government was smart by playing it safe, now I expect the government will be stupid and the biggest and loudest growers will end up pocketing more in paybacks than they would have made without the warnings.
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