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,” says 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.”
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.