Salmonella, lettuce, and lousy public reporting; silence of the Salmonella

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in her Sept. 11 address to the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference that FDA’s intent is to keep unsafe foods from reaching the market and part of that new push will be accomplished by expanding outreach.

Guess it didn’t reach all the lettuce growers. Or the consuming public.

That’s because The Oregonian reports today that federal and state health authorities are investigating a salmonella outbreak that peaked in Oregon in August.

This is the middle of September. This is not prevention. Or good news.

The good news is that it is over, said William Keene, senior epidemiologist at the Public Health Division in Oregon.

He said the first cases surfaced nationwide in mid-July and trailed off a month later.

At least 124 were sickened across the country, with a clustering of cases in the West.

Two people got so sick they had to be hospitalized, and one had severe symptoms, Keene said. They have now been released from the hospital. He said no one died in Oregon or elsewhere in connection with the outbreak.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration still do not know exactly what poisoned people, though shredded lettuce is a leading suspect, Keene said.

The silence of the Salmonella. It would help, as with the Salmonella in produce outbreak last summer, or the listeria in Canadian cold cuts last fall, if public health types would clearly articulate, when they go public and why. And let everyone see those guidelines.

This entry was posted in Food Safety Policy, Norovirus, Salmonella and tagged , , , by Douglas Powell. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time