Speeches & Testimony

Statement From Foodborne Illness Victim Dana Dziadul

On Nov. 20, Dana Dziadul gave a statement before the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services about her experience being hospitalized after she ate a cantaloupe carrying Salmonella in 2001.

Good morning.

My name is Dana, and I am 16 years old.  Thirteen years ago, my life changed forever—all from eating cantaloupe. A high fever of 104 degrees, bloody diarrhea, and stomach cramps that made me scream with pain led to an initial diagnosis of a Salmonella Poona infection.  As the time passed, so did the salmonella, into my blood stream and causing blood poisoning. I was hospitalized for weeks, and my room was equipped with everything necessary should I go into respiratory or cardiac arrest. Doctors questioned whether I was going to survive.

Dana Dziadul testimony© The Pew Charitable Trusts

Dana Dziadul speaks in North Carolina on Nov. 20, 2014.

I was finally able to go home, yet not without long-term health consequences of the Salmonella Poona infection.  I was diagnosed with reactive arthritis, an inflammatory condition that can arise after certain foodborne illnesses.  This is a debilitating disease.  Who would have thought that, when I turned 15 and received my permit to drive, pushing on the gas pedal or break of a car would hurt? It does. My life is affected everyday—all because of the cantaloupe I ate 13 years ago.

I hope that not one more person, young or old, has a similar experience with foodborne illness.  I am grateful for the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and hope all of its potentially lifesaving proposed rules are finalized as soon as possible.  I think it’s great that FDA is proposing restrictions on the possible sources of contamination of fresh produce, including cantaloupe, but it should set standards for all sources.