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Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak Exposes Food Safety Weaknesses
Date:11/18/2008

uice in 2001.

The need for organizational reforms throughout the public health system for a more coordinated outbreak response. The report raises questions about how timely and effectively data was shared between public health agencies and if it contributed to a delayed identification of jalapeno and serrano peppers as a vehicle for Salmonella Saintpaul.

The need to have established and unified risk communication plans in place before an outbreak. The report documents "dueling" public health messages from various agencies announcing the outbreak, and questions why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its presentation of data numerous times in the middle of the outbreak.

"Many of these problems have been identified for years by expert body after expert body," said Jim O'Hara, director of PSP. "If we pass up this opportunity to learn from this most recent outbreak, we will keep repeating the same costly mistakes - for public health and industry alike."

For the report and comprehensive timeline, PSP reviewed all of the public statements and Web site postings of the CDC and FDA; the transcripts of the FDA/CDC media calls; press releases and Web site postings by state public-health departments and industry trade associations; and media coverage from around the country. In addition, PSP staff attended and monitored the oversight hearings held by Congressional committees.

"The Obama Administration should make the establishment of mandatory, enforceable safety standards for fresh produce a food safety priority and take steps to fix our broken outbreak response system," O'Hara said. "Both actions will go a long way toward safeguarding public health and protecting farmers."

The Produce Safety Project at Georgetown University seeks the establishment by the Food and Drug Administration of mandatory and enforceable safet
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SOURCE Produce Safety Project, an Initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts at Georgetown University
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