Friday, January 30, 2009

Rutgers Food Policy Institute weighs in on salmonella outbreak of 2008

Doug Powell of the Food Safety Network passes on this link to Rutgers University's Fodo Policy Institute on the salmonella outbreak of 2008. Here is the link to the 17 page pdf report. While the report doesn't draw any startling conclusions, it is another testament to the less than effective communications effort during the 2008 salmonella outbreak. From the conclusion:

Ironically however, the results of this study show that while the vast majority of Americans heard the federal government’s message to avoid certain tomatoes because of their possible connection with Salmonella Saintpaul, significantly fewer were aware of the warnings concerning fresh chile peppers than tomatoes and that the initial advisories concerning fresh chile peppers were targeted primarily to high-risk consumers.


A small percentage of the respondents said that they had washed or cooked their tomatoes to make them safe to eat. In their responses to future outbreaks, communications may be warranted from FDA and CDC that specifically address the adequacy of washing and cooking to render potentially contaminated produce safe to eat.


The data here provide evidence that the communication of the end of this outbreak was only moderately effective, with only some Americans certain that the warning had been lifted. However, by the time of our interview, only a minority reported not having eaten tomatoes since the warning was lifted.

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