Friday, September 16, 2011

In the News Today

You may want to sit down for this one, because this story is clearly of the WTF!? variety (thanks again to Amy of Eco-Steps for suggesting I create a category for ridiculous news like this).

AlterNet is reporting that Del Monte, the people that bring tropical fruit in fresh and canned versions to Canada and the US, has sued the FDA for daring to recall their cantaloupes this past March when it seemed that the melons were contaminated with salmonella. Apparently the fruit corporation thinks this is an open-and-shut case because there is no hard evidence, despite the fact that the epidemiological investigation yielded some pretty clear results:

"Twelve of sixteen ill people reported eating cantaloupe in the week before illness. Eleven of these twelve ill people ate cantaloupes purchased at eight different locations of a national warehouse club. Information gathered with patient permission from membership card records helped determine that ill persons purchased cantaloupes sourced from a single farm. Product traceback information indicated these cantaloupes were harvested from single farm in Guatemala", says the CDC.

The likely reason that subsequent tests performed on cantaloupe samples from that farm came out negative for salmonella is that none of the original melons could be found. In the time it took for people to become sick, for someone to realize these 20 cases of illness were related, and for the probable source of the outbreak to be traced back to Del Monte... well, the cantaloupes were gone. They matured, were harvested, and were shipped up here. A month had passed, after all. Lacking confirmatory evidence from test results proves nothing, especially when the tests are performed too late. The same would happen if two friends were to get food poisoning from the same restaurant one night and only tell each other that they had both gotten sick one or two days later, once they had recovered; at that point, the original contaminated food in the restaurant would be gone, and tests would come back negative. Does that change the fact that the restaurant is clearly the source of the illness? No!

Am I the only person who thinks this lawsuit is ridiculous? A horrendous waste of time and money? An insult to public health agencies whose job it is to protect us from harm, not fight private corporations in court? WTF!?

Photos of cantaloupes used under Creative Commons from Kabsik Park (Royalty-free image collection/flickr) and mary (marymactavish/flickr).


  1. Good lord. That's ridiculous.

    How do these people SLEEP at night!?

  2. Oh, that's easy: they sleep on piles of money.

  3. Ugh-big waste of time and money! And it makes them look absolutely ridiculous. The whole thing really is out of control. Good ol' legal system!

    I'm glad you've added a "ridiculous news" category. I'm sure it will fill up quickly :)

  4. You're right, Lori, it's not just ridiculous news, it makes Del Monte look ridiculous, too. How could this possibly win them any points with the public, with consumers? I don't buy tropical fruit very often because of the carbon footprint associated with importing produce from far away, but you can bet I'm going to make sure I never buy Del Monte again.