The outbreak of salmonella in tomatoes is shaping up to be the industryâ€™s worst nightmare. Although the Florida Tomato Exchange did not return calls from SE Agnet yesterday, Reggie Brown did talk to Reuters, which quotes him as saying the industry in Florida is in “complete collapse.”
“We probably have $40 million worth of product we can’t sell. We’ve had to stop packing, stop picking,” Brown told Reuters.
Meanwhile, tomatoes from Georgia and Alabama have been declared as free from possible implication in the outbreak. The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association sent out a strongly worded announcement that tomatoes grown in Georgia ARE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE OUTBREAK. Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks announced that Alabama grown tomatoes were placed on the Food & Drug Administrationâ€™s â€œsafe to eatâ€ list yesterday.
Grower-shippers are working closely with the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and state agencies to find the source of the contaminated produce.Regardless of the source, fresh tomatoes are being pulled off grocery store shelves and restaurant menus nationwide. At least 145 cases of Salmonella type Saintpaul infections in 16 states have been confirmed.