CSPI Urges Review into Government's Handling of Salmonella Outbreak

Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal

August 4, 2011

The Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak shows a troubling lapse in coordination between federal agencies that are duty bound to protect the public. Today during a conference call with the Centers for Disease Control and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, government officials presented a confusing timeline indicating that they might have had preliminary evidence by late May linking the outbreak strain to test results from turkey products coming out of a Cargill plant in Arkansas. Given the severity of the outbreak, involving over 20 hospitalizations and one death, prompt consumer warnings and notification of the company are essential to stem the outbreak. The failure to issue a public alert earlier or to even notify the company shows a troubling lack of coordination that potentially contributed to the size and severity of the outbreak.

The government’s failure to either alert the public or the company of the problem should be fully reviewed.


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