Daryl-Lynn Carlson
Tainted tomatoes expected to drive claims surge | Canadian Insurance

Tainted tomatoes expected to drive claims surge

As the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) narrows down its search for the source of tomatoes tainted with salmonella, A.M. Best is warning that the longer it takes to locate the source, the more related insurance claims the outbreak will generate.   

“The delay in finding the source has meant significant business disruption for U.S. tomato growers and distributors, and, to some extent, their counterparts in Canada and Mexico, whose products are consumed in the United States,” A.M. Best notes in its June 16 edition of BestWeek.

“Insurance claims from this event are expected to be widespread throughout North America… Also, the length of time the government restriction on tomato consumption remains might impact the severity of the claims.”

There have been more than 550 illnesses reported in 32 states although no deaths. Officials can’t be certain the outbreak is over, with the latest victim presenting symptoms on June 10.

FDA investigators have narrowed down their search for the salmonella source to locations in Florida and Mexico, focusing on farms, distribution centres, packing facilities and any operation comprising “the whole distribution chain,” said Dr. David Acheson, head of the FDA’s food safety.

The FDA has warned consumers in the U.S. against eating red plum, red round or red Roma tomatoes while cherry and grape type tomatoes have been cleared as okay.