Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008

Salmonella: A One-Two Punch

It took nearly four months for the FDA to clean up the damage from the largest outbreak of food-borne illness in more than a decade. The culprit: some contaminated jalapeño and serrano peppers that were exported from Mexico to the U.S. early last spring. In the end, at least 1,440 people in 43 states became sick from salmonella, a potentially life-threatening bacterium. By August, the FDA had finally lifted its warning on the peppers and some tomatoes and promised consumers it would tighten safety regulations. Not long after that crisis passed, a milder one struck. Thirty-two people in 12 states came down with salmonella in October after failing to cook a brand of frozen chicken dinners — which appeared to have already been cooked — thoroughly enough.