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Of peppers and preparedness

Andrew L. Garrett

Title:
Of peppers and preparedness
Author(s):
Garrett, Andrew L.
Date:
Type:
Articles
Department(s):
National Center for Disaster Preparedness
Volume:
12
Persistent URL:
Book/Journal Title:
Homeland Security Today - news and analysis
Abstract:
What can a chili pepper teach us about disaster preparedness? At the outset of the investigation, fresh tomatoes were initially implicated through “guilt by association” with other salmonella outbreaks, and a national advisory was put in place for over 40 days while officials attempted to find the source of the illness. The tomato ban was subsequently lifted, but not before a reported $100 million damage occurred to the tomato industry’s sales as a result of a conservative, yet possibly false, alarm. In July, additional vegetables were added to the list of suspects, as public confusion continued to mount over what food was safe to eat. In the end, Mexican grown jalapeño and Serrano peppers were genetically “fingerprinted” as being the likely culprits, although tomatoes have not been completely cleared off the suspect list. An incident of biological terrorism has great potential to pose even greater challenges than the summer’s salmonella outbreak. The substance involved may sound familiar, such as salmonella, E. coli, or botulism, but a carefully orchestrated attack at one or more points high up in the food distribution chain or in a public venue such as a major vacation destination would likely present a true investigative nightmare that would challenge currently available resources.
Subject(s):
Public health
Epidemiology
Item views
1115
Metadata:
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Suggested Citation:
Andrew L. Garrett, , Of peppers and preparedness, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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