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The Impact of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks: Tomatoes

FDA examines effects on two-billion dollar industry at AAEA Annual Meeting

The United States is one of the world’s largest producers of tomatoes. In fact, it is a $2 Billion industry, and studies show tomatoes are the fourth-most popular vegetable in the country.

But as the industry grows, so too does the risk of foodborne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there were 27 tomato-based outbreaks in the U.S., resulting in nearly 500 people getting sick and/or hospitalized.

“Produce is a growing culprit in foodborne illnesses,” said Julia Marasteanu, an economist with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Tomatoes are grown in every state and it is interesting to see how foodborne illness impacts the industry.”

There have been major outbreaks linked to spinach and sprouts in the recent past which have impacted the image of the industry. Do the effects of these outbreaks trickle down all the way to the individual grower?

Marasteanu and colleagues from the FDA conducted a study titled “How Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Impact Tomato Farms,” which will be part of the 2016 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Boston, July 31 – August 2.

The presentation is Monday, August 1, at 2:45 PM at the Marriott Copley Place, in Salon D on the fourth floor. If you are interested in setting up an interview before or during the meeting, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.

Contact: Allison Scheetz
Senior Communications Manager
(414) 918-3190