Friday, February 26, 2010

18 Days is an Eternity

I had last reported on a case of Salmonella Montevideo relating to an outbreak in jalapeno peppers from 2008 in a blog titled, Support Your Local FDA. The reason for the blog was that the FDA is seeking more funding to bolster the food safety industry and to offer my support for such. I still support this initiative and now even more than ever. As I alluded to in the previous blog, there was a case regarding ground black pepper in Rhode Island that began on February 8th, 2010.

The latest update released on February 25th from the FDA states that the investigation is continuing and expanding into crushed red pepper. Yes, those are the little flakes you sprinkle on your pizza for an additional kick… Let’s back the story up a little… It was first a recall on possibly tainted salami products, then to ground black pepper, and now to crushed red pepper. It has been 18 days and I know many of you are thinking that this is a short amount of time, but in my world of food, this is an eternity. We have crushed red pepper in our kitchens and never would have considered pulling it until this report from yesterday. That means we could have potentially been using tainted product for the last 18+ days. Good news, we do not use that particular company to get our crushed pepper. It could have been a problem though…

So you see 18 days is an eternity whereby others using this product could have unsuspectingly been using and serving it. To be sure, the salami recall was necessary since that was considered the “common product” everyone ill had consumed. Like the tomato and pepper fiasco from 2008, the FDA rang the alarm on ground black pepper almost immediately. I wish I knew why… There are dozens of ingredients and spices that make up salami and they apparently got it wrong again.

The FDA Transparency Blog should be answering many of these questions but it is not. It seems to focus on the transparency of the bureaucracy rather than food safety issues. For example, I would like to know more about the laboratory techniques and why it takes so long to test the ingredient sources from tainted products. I still support the additional funding for the FDA, but I am going to question how the money is used every step of the way. It seems oversight is working, but field technicians are in short supply as well as lab and testing facilities.

Please invest OUR tax dollars wisely,


No comments:

Post a Comment