PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building in Washington, D.C.
The Food and Drug Administration has spent months trying to identify the source of the nationwide salmonella outbreak. In July, PCRM doctors literally spelled out the answer.
Using more than 1,000 tomatoes, PCRM physicians and staff spelled out “It’s the meat, stupid!” in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) building. In a reference to the political slogan “It’s the economy, stupid,” the event called attention to the role of the meat industry in spreading salmonella, E. coli, and other foodborne pathogens.
A dangerous salmonella strand has sickened more than 1,000 Americans over the past few months, and pollution from animal agriculture is the most likely original source. Like E. coli, salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals and are usually transmitted to humans from food contaminated with animal feces. Massive factory farms, feedlots, and other agribusiness operations have caused an unprecedented amount of feces to end up in rivers, streams, and irrigation water, resulting in the contamination of otherwise healthful produce.
Salmonella are intestinal bacteria. Tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and other fruits and vegetables have no intestine. Most foodborne illness germs come from chicken and cow feces that contaminate waterways used for irrigation and contaminate kitchen counters and grocery store shelves.
PCRM also asked its members to sign a petition to HHS asking the agency to investigate the original source of the salmonella outbreak—the meat industry. PCRM presented thousands of signed petitions to the FDA, an agency within HHS, and to the Honorable Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of HHS.
After the event, the tomatoes were donated to Manna Food Center in Rockville, Md. The center serves 2,300 hungry families and elementary students in Montgomery County, Md.