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Salmonella Victims Call For Tightened Food Safety

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 05, 2009 1:24 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Salmonella, CDC, FDA, Food Borne Illness, Public Health

FDA considering having a separate food safety division.

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IMAGE SOURCE:  CDC Web site on on Salmonella

 

Michael Thomas says he was the “peanut butter kid” growing up.

He always loved peanut butter and jelly, but the last time he ate peanut butter was in February 2007. That’s when he consumed Peter Pan peanut butter later connected to the ConAgra Food salmonella outbreak that hit hundreds nationwide.

Thomas told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “It’s pain, pain and more pain. I had never been sick a day in my life. Then salmonella ruined me physically, emotionally and financially.”  

Thomas appeared at a Washington D.C. news conference Wednesday at the behest of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) who unveiled new legislation to create a separate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency specifically to deal with food safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports about 40,000 people are poisoned by salmonella every year and 400 die from food borne bacterial contamination.  Those like Thomas can have a lifetime of chronic illness including gallbladder problems, arthritis, eye irritation, and gastric and bladder cancer. 

Thomas says for more than five months he couldn’t get out of bed. He was on antibiotics for almost 11 months. He lost his house, not able to get health insurance or pay his bills.  He never received a stool test to confirm he had salmonella poisoning. 

Dr. W. Hayes Wilson, the chief of rheumatology at Piedmont Hospital tells the AJC.com that some people are predisposed to contracting reactive arthritis after a bacterial infection such as salmonellosis.  “Genetics are the loaded gun. Salmonella pulls the trigger,” Wilson says.

The family of 72-year-old Shirley Mae Almer of Savage, Minnesota also testified. She became sick and died after eating contaminated peanut butter from Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the source of the latest national outbreak of salmonella. 

So far the FDA reports 550 people have been sickened in the Blakely, Georgia peanut processing plant outbreak. Salmonella may have contributed to the death of eight people. 

PCA in a statement Wednesday said its Georgia plant was visited regularly by private inspectors, both announced and unannounced, several of whom said it was in tip-top shape.

The New York Times reports that at least one inspector was hired by PCA to provide information to meet food safety requirements.  Companies such as Kellogg would receive the plant audits that included information on the cleanliness of the plant, and the condition of equipment. 

The FDA reports its web page on food safety has been viewed 19 million times.   

Dr. Stephen Sundlof, the director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told a Senate Committee on Agriculture today that consumers should consult the site to become more aware of recalls as they are announced. #


2 Comments

Posted by Ajlouny
Friday, February 06, 2009 12:41 AM EST

The problem is that peanut butter has a long shelf life and there is just no knowing where the contamination lies waiting. I thought twice before turning down a purchase of my favorite candy bar that contained peanut butter.

Anonymous User
Posted by sherrie johnson
Monday, February 09, 2009 12:19 PM EST

I think they should do better at inspecting these places and if they are passing the inspections the place should be closed down. These our lives they are playing with. THEY SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GET A PRIVATE INSPECTOR AFTER THEY HAVE FAIL THE FIRST TIME.

Comments for this article are closed.

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