POST Online Media Lite Edition


U.S. doesn't have to compensate tomato growers for 2008 outbreak

Staff Writer |
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims two years ago ruled that food safety warnings are not “regulatory takings” by the government.

Article continues below

So, the U.S. Sam does not have to compensate tomato growers who lost money when the public was told tomatoes might have been responsible for a 2008 Salmonella outbreak.

Now the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed, turning down a $15 million claim from Seaside Farm, located on South Carolina’s St. Helena Island, Food Safety News reports.

The farm sought the money because the FDA’s public health warning, issued during an emergency, was erroneous and caused the public stop purchasing tomatoes, according to the tomato grower.

The 4th Circuit ruling was based on the Federal Tort Claims Act, the same law that came into play two years ago when the ruling also went against a group of growers, packers and shippers from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The lawsuits followed the mistake made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the nation’s biggest food safety agency was dealing with an elusive outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul. It was later determined the culprit was contaminated peppers imported from Mexico.

The 4th Circuit found FDA was well within its authority by communicating to the public what it knew about the outbreak during the emergency.