OK, Who Didn’t Wash Their Hands?

Unfortunately, the salmonella outbreak that first reared it’s ugly head in April, is still going strong. And it almost feels like we trying to figure out who gave us this horrible, lingering, head-cold.

Federal health officials said they might never find the cause (of the salmonella outbreak) —and that tomatoes might not be the culprit after all.

Though fresh tomatoes have a “strong association” with many of the cases and remain a top suspect, health officials have not confirmed that the fruit carried the rare Salmonella Saintpaul strain.

Source: Chicago Tribune (thanks Bea)

Officials investigating the salmonella outbreak now are looking at jalapeño peppers as a leading suspect for spreading the bacteria that has sickened hundreds across the U.S. over the past three months.

New surveys with patients who only became sick recently, as well as some earlier victims, show that many ate jalapeño peppers along with tomatoes, one official said.

The CDC has said their food detectives settled on tomatoes shortly after the outbreak because a disproportionately high number of victims — eight in 10 — ate them. But the number of salmonella cases didn’t decline, even after a warning issued by the FDA on June 3 prompted a sharp drop in tomato consumption. The number of reported cases had grown to 922 as of Wednesday, from 40 on June 2, 2008.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

While tomatoes are still being investigated, they are no longer considered one of the primary culprits in this salmonella outbreak after all. We’ve been hearing hints of this for the last few weeks, but still there is no definitive answer where the blame lies. The CDC is now looking at jalapeno peppers as a potential culprit, and other foods commonly eaten with tomatoes.

Officials have acknowledged the slow pace (of the investigation), while facing growing pressure to identify the source of contamination conclusively — something the Food and Drug Administration has warned may be impossible.

The CDC is focusing on 29 “clusters” of illnesses, Mr. Nowak (a CDC spokesperson) said. A cluster is created when two or more people become sick within a 10-day period after eating at the same restaurant. Most of the restaurants serve Mexican food, and most of them are not chains, Mr. Nowak said.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

So, people are continuing to fall ill across the country and we may never know what caused this salmonella outbreak. I wonder if the anti-vegan blogs out there are writing posts entitled “yet another reason not to eat produce?”

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