first_imgJun 19, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – A series of illness outbreaks linked to tomatoes over the last decade prompted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to announce last week an initiative to explore contamination causes and develop better guidance to reduce the number of tomato-related illnesses.Over the past 10 years, fresh tomatoes have been linked to 12 outbreaks that resulted in 1,840 confirmed illnesses, according to a Jun 12 press release from the FDA. Most of outbreaks, including two last summer and fall, involved Salmonella.The FDA traced most of the outbreaks to tomatoes from Florida and the eastern shore of Virginia, though some of the contaminated products also came from California, Georgia, Ohio, and South Carolina, the press release said.The FDA said its investigators would collaborate with health and agriculture officials in Florida and Virginia to identify practices or conditions at tomato farms and packing facilities that lead to contamination. The initiative will begin during this year’s growing season, focusing on Virginia in the summer and Florida in the fall.During the environmental part of the investigation, officials will be examining irrigation water, wells, chemical mixing procedures, droughts and floods, and animal proximity to growing fields, the FDA said.”Produce is an important part of a healthy diet, and FDA wants to improve its safety by better understanding the causes of foodborne illnesses and by promoting more effective methods of safe food production, delivery, and preparation, said Robert Brackett, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in the press release.The findings of the investigation will not only help the FDA improve its tomato safety guidance and policy, but also suggest areas for further research, education, and outreach, the agency said. Several universities and members of the produce industry will be part of the safety initiative, which the FDA says complements the Leafy Greens Initiative that was launched in 2006 to explore factors that led to a spate of Escherichia coli outbreaks linked to lettuce and other leafy greens produced in California’s Salinas Valley.In 1990 and 1993, investigations of multistate salmonellosis outbreaks traced the cause to tomatoes processed at a single South Carolina tomato packer. The authors, who published their findings in a 1999 issue of Epidemiology and Infection, concluded that inadequately monitored chlorine levels in the processor’s wash tanks likely contributed to the outbreaks.Craig Hedberg, PhD, lead author of the study and a University of Minnesota expert on foodborne disease, said that despite investments that have been made to address tomato contamination problems over the past decade, little fundamental change has occurred. Hedberg said he hopes the FDA’s current initiative will spur new measures to reduce the number of outbreaks linked to tomatoes.In 2005, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published findings on three Salmonella outbreaks in the summer of 2004 that were linked to Roma tomatoes. The account said the tomatoes in all three outbreaks were traced to a single packing house in Florida, though other growers or packers also could have supplied contaminated products.More research is needed to determine if Salmonella can travel from the roots to the fruit or if contaminated seeds can affect subsequent generations of tomato plants, the authors noted. “Understanding the mechanism of contamination and amplification of contamination of large volumes of tomatoes is critical to prevent large-scale, tomato-associated outbreaks,” they wrote.The authors pointed out that produce packing houses were exempt from Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requirements, though the FDA encouraged GMP controls for water used in the packing houses. “However, the extent to which FDA guidance has been adopted by the industry is unknown,” the report said.At a Mar 20 FDA hearing on regulatory options for fresh fruits and vegetables, Elisa Odabashian, director of the Consumers Union’s West Coast office, asserted that the FDA’s voluntary guidelines for producers have failed to make food safer, according to a copy of the prepared testimony. She said the only way to make food safer and rebuild consumer confidence is for the FDA and/or the California Department of Health Services to mandate Good Agricultural Practices for growers and Hazard Analysis/Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems for all processors.See also:Jun 12 FDA news release Outbreaks of Salmonella infections associated with eating Roma tomatoes—United States and Canada, 2004. MMWR 2005 Apr 8;54(13):325-28 [Full text]Hedberg CW, Angulo, FJ, White KE, et al. Outbreak of salmonellosis associated with eating uncooked tomatoes: implications for public health. Epidemiol Infect 1999;122(3)385-93 [Abstract]Mar 20 Consumers Union testimony to the FDA read more

first_imgTwo days later and that win over Duke still has Badgerland buzzing.It was a game Badger fans will never forget.But I’ll be honest, when it was revealed that a Duke fan won the first seat in the student section lottery, and I realized a man in a blue sweatshirt would be leading the Grateful Red into their seats, I had a bad feeling about the highly-anticipated game that lie ahead.Thankfully, that was the first and last lead Duke would attain the entire night as the Badgers did the unthinkable in upsetting the No.6 team in the country.Needless to say I’m still pretty excited about the win. How could you not be?And as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, it was a team effort that got Bucky one of its greatest wins ever at the Kohl Center. It was inspiring to see every single Badger on the floor play with such confidence as they refused to back down.Look at a guy like Ryan Evans.The redshirt freshman was a last-minute pick up in the 2008 recruiting cycle, and most in Madison thought flat top would just sit the bench throughout most of his career.He’s too raw and inexperienced to play on the same court as the Blue Devils, right? Not exactly.We knew he was athletic, we knew he could jump out of the building and now we know he can battle with some of the best college basketball players in the country.Evans had the task of guarding All-American forward Kyle Singler — a tall order for any defender. And yes, Singler got his 20-plus points, but he had to earn every single one of them. For a while it looked like Singler couldn’t miss, but Evans made it tough on him all night and it showed in the final minutes.Singler went strong to the rim with Duke down by two and less than 30 seconds remaining. Evans was there for the denial.And what about senior guard Jason Bohannon, who had a dreadful night from beyond the arc?Let me get this out there — Bohannon is not a great shooter, he is a streaky one. When he is on, he’s lethal, and when he’s off, the rim just seems to get smaller and smaller with each attempt. You just never know what you’re going to get with him on a nightly basis.But Bohannon impressed me Wednesday night, even with the poor shooting performance.Despite all the missed shots, all the wide-open looks, Bohannon stepped to line and hit all four of his free-throws with the game hanging in the balance.For a guy struggling to connect all game, those shots from the charity stripe showed true mental toughness.Additionally, he was poised during the late-game inbounds pass (something that UW has struggled with) and he delivered for his team when he had to.I wish I could discuss everyone’s performance from Wednesday. Keaton Nankivil and Jon Leuer played great and Jordan Taylor looked like a senior out there.But if there was one man on the floor who stole the show, it was Trevon Hughes.The senior point guard was everything this team needed him to be. He knocked down open threes with ease, he drove to the lane with efficiency (like Bohannon, he too was 4-4 from the line) and he held down one of the nation’s best guards in Jon Scheyer.And to top it all off — not a single turnover.Hughes has had an up and down career at UW, with inconsistency and carelessness oftentimes plaguing him. But he is finally taking ownership of this squad, and his confidence and leadership makes this team a legitimate Big Ten title contender.Now I’ve touched on the impressive performances by Wisconsin’s players, but how about the inspired final group that took the floor for UW — the students.Wisconsin’s student section has gotten plenty of the criticism over the years. The late arrivals to football games are well documented and some say the Grateful Red has lost the edge it had when the Badgers were an up-and-coming program.But the Kohl Center was absolutely rocking Wednesday night.Hundreds of students lined up hours before tip-off to get as close to the action as possible, and every time Duke touched the ball the noise was relentless.And of course, when all was said and done, we stormed the court.Already there are those questioning the mass exodus of students from their seats. Some will say UW should “act like you’ve been there before” and even Brent Musburger commented that it looked like the Badgers had won a Final Four game. ESPN’s Dana O’Neil dropped this line in a blog post, “And really? Storming the court in December?”But Wisconsin students had every right to storm the court. We would have been crazy not to.You see, we stormed the court because:? The Badgers were picked to finish in the bottom of the Big Ten despite making it to 11 straight NCAA tournaments under Bo Ryan. For some reason, this program still doesn’t get the respect it deserves.? Games in December can loom large on a tournament r?sum? come March.? Two years ago Duke obliterated the Badgers in Durham and yeah, revenge is just that sweet.? The Big Ten had never won the Big Ten/ACC challenge over its 11 year history, and a UW win all but ensured the first ever Big Ten victory.? No one gave this team a chance against almighty Duke, who came in undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the nation, so that group of underrated Badgers deserved to have that moment.So yeah, we ran all over that court to engulf the Badgers with Coach K and perennial power Duke watching — and for an underappreciated program that just keeps proving the doubters wrong, it just doesn’t get much better than that.Max is a junior majoring in journalism. Think he is overboard in his love for the Badgers? Let him know at [email protected]last_img read more