Thursday, June 12, 2008

NAFTA’s Revenge

California Tomato Farmers President Ed Beckman said that at this time of year almost all tomatoes sold in the United States come from either Mexico or Florida.

Mexico supplies about one-third of all tomatoes consumed in the U.S. in the winter months and Florida is the No. 1 producer, with $600 million in sales annually.

California is the second-largest producer, with $400 million in sales annually.
CARLA K. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
Florida and California have been cleared by the FDA but you wouldn’t hear who the FDA suspects as the originator of Salmonella laced tomatoes any time soon because that would reflect badly on NAFTA.

You know the North American Free Trade Agreement signed into law by President Bill Clinton that allows borderless free trade with Mexico and Canada. Oh by the way Canada has been cleared too.

As a matter of fact here’s a list of all of the regions; states and countries that have been cleared by the FDA;

• Alabama
• Arkansas
• California
• Colorado
• Delaware
• Florida (counties of: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Charlotte)
• Georgia
• Hawaii
• Louisiana
• Maine
• Maryland
• Minnesota
• Mississippi
• New Jersey
• New York
• Nebraska
• North Carolina
• Ohio
• Pennsylvania
• South Carolina
• Tennessee
• Texas
• West Virginia
• Wisconsin
• Belgium
• Canada
• Dominican Republic
• Guatemala
• Israel
• Netherlands
• Puerto Rico

Humm… No Mexico? Well not yet always. Speaking of Mexico what does this salmonella outbreak and Mexico have in common?

It’s called Montezuma’s Revenge, Gringo Gallop, the Aztec Two-step or traveler’s diarrhea caused by a bacterium strain present in food and water, to which Mexicans are normally immune, but that causes disease in foreigners.

Tourists that eat and drink the water south of the border in Mexico know that they are susceptible to a very nasty tummy ache, diarrhea, and fever for at least 12 to 72 hours for 4 to 7 days.
Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.

Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Contaminated foods are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but any food, including vegetables, may become contaminated. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella.

Food may also become contaminated by the hands of an infected food handler who did not wash hands with soap after using the bathroom.
What’s interesting is that U.S. citizens who are affected by this tomatoe born salmonella infection are afflicted with diarrhea, fever, and 12 to 72 hours of abdominal cramps.
Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called Salmonella. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.

However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
--Centers for Disease Control Prevention
As a result of NAFTA one no longer has to cross the southern border to be infected with traveler’s diarrhea because goods and services cross the border so freely between the two countries we now have the benefit of staying right at home and traveling back and forth to our toilets or our hospitals after we consume NAFTA related foods. Isn’t free trade great!

Speaking of free trade, a very large Mexican business that ships tomatoes to the United States and Canada is losing millions of dollars in tomato sells, Art Salinas owner of the tomato import company Bonanza 2001 has 500 tons of tomatoes sitting in his warehouse on Anaya Road near the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in McAllen, Texas that he can’t sell.

Bonanza is one of the largest Roma tomato importers in Texas. The company, owned by Salinas, has about 150 acres of tomatoes in the Mexican state of Jalisco and imports about a 25 million pounds of tomatoes a year.

Mexican distributors also send watermelon and avocados across the border I’d be suspicious of these NAFTA items too if I were you.

Every time I bite into a luscious red tomato I'll think of Bill and Hillary! Bon App├ętit!