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Infected tomatoe epidemic is proof industrial farms are hazardous to America’s health June 29, 2008

Posted by Daniel Downs in farms, health, news, political economy.
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The proof that industrial farming is hazardous to our health may not be in the puddling but it is in the beef and tomatoes. There are two epidemics occurring in America. One is a national epidemic caused by eating tomatoes infected with salmonella. The second is an outbreak of illness in Ohio and Michigan caused by infected hamburger with E. coli O157:H7. In this post, only the national outbreak will be considered.

According to the CDC, 552 people in 32 states have been infected with salmonella by eating tomatoes. At least 53 persons have been hospitalized. The specific type and source of tomatoes is under investigation; however, the data suggest that illnesses are linked to consumption of raw red plum, red Roma, or round red tomatoes, or any combination of these types of tomatoes, and to products containing these raw tomatoes. At least 53 persons were hospitalized.

The map above marks out the states where outbreaks have occurred. The 10 states with the highest number of reported illnesses are Texas (265), New Mexico (73), Illinois (34), Arizona (29), Virginia (20), Maryland (18), Georgia (11), Missouri (10), New York (10), and Kansas (9). There have been 3 related illnesses reported in Ohio.

New Scientist columnist Ewen Callaway interviewed Keith Warriner, a food microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Warriner said that the source of the salmonella bacteria probably comes from groundwater contaminated with animal feces. Once the bacteria get on or into a tomato, the fruit acts like an incubator. Bacteria divide even in the cool temperatures of packing houses.

It takes a lot of manure to contaminate ground water. The only sources producing large amounts of infected manure are either meat processing plants or industrial animal farms. Regulations regulating meat processing plants are usually not adequately enforced and industrial animal farms should never been allow to exist. Large corporate meat processing plants rely on the mass production animals at industrial farms. There is nothing good about those types of farms except the profits of their owners and corporate meat production plants.

There has been an average of three salmonella outbreaks involving fruit or vegetables each year since 1996. Five of the 33 have involved tomatoes, according to Callaway.

People in the Midwest including Ohio and Michigan have been infected with E.Coli by contaminated hamburger in 2006, 2007, and now 2008. The first outbreak was tied to contaminated meat at Taco Bell. In 2007, Topps frozen hamburger patties was the culprit. The source of the current outbreak is not yet known.

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