Proof that meat isn't the only offender in the recall world and seemingly innocent veggies can wreak havoc just as easily: An outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul linked to imported cucumbers have made at least 81 people in 18 states sick, the CDC says. And that's a number that has risen since April 25, when there were only 78 illnesses being reported. Now 16 people have been hospitalized.
Also kind of dumbfounding: The first victim of the outbreak fell ill on January 12 and the most recent one on April 19. Of course, health officials aren't positive if there are unreported illnesses that started sometime last month. Grrreat. You really can't help but wonder what in the world is going on, and how are they going to get to the bottom of this.
So far, all the CDC knows is that the strain of Salmonella Saintpaul behind the outbreak came from cucumbers from Daniel Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse in Culiacán, Mexico. And at least, the FDA has taken action, issuing an alert about the companies and noting that the U.S. can't import fresh fruits and veggies from them until they can prove via testing that they are clear of the bacteria. Also, there is "no evidence that infected cucumbers remain on store shelves." Well, that's ... sort of ... a relief.
But not really. It still feels like a bandage of sorts, as opposed to a real cure. What does the FDA plan to do in the long-run to prevent something like this from happening again? Maybe it's time to enact higher standards for all foods that come from out of the country. (Though a new food safety law was signed by President Obama two years ago, the FDA is still working on provisions of the law, including rules governing the production of produce and import standards aimed to stem outbreaks. Groan.) If we don't, we'll just have to hope we're taking as many food safety precautions as possible and expect to outbreaks like this one, which like a wildfire, are difficult to contain and could keep spreading and spreading.
How do you feel about this outbreak?