People are getting very sick from eating raw tomatoes, tainted with salmonella. Some restaurants and stores, including McDonalds, Taco Bell, Whole Foods, Subway, Olive Garden and IHOP have pulled several types of tomatoes from its shelves and have stopped serving tomatoes as a precaution until the source of the salmonella outbreak is determined.
The Centers for Disease Control is not sure where those tainted tomatoes came from, but they are warning people about eating large tomatoes, including Roma and Red Round. Investigations have turned up 56 cases in Texas and 55 in New Mexico and an additional 50 people have been infected from the same Salmonella infection in states stretching from California to Virginia. Two people in Idaho have become sick, in Oregon two people and one person in Washington
The Food and Drug Administration is alerting consumers nationwide (children and adults) that a salmonellosis outbreak appears to be linked to consumption of certain types of raw red tomatoes and products containing raw red tomatoes. The bacteria causing the illnesses are Salmonella serotype Saintpaul, an uncommon type of Salmonella.
At this time, consumers should limit their tomato consumption to tomatoes that have not been implicated in the outbreak. These include cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, and tomatoes grown at home. If unsure of where tomatoes are grown or harvested, you are encouraged to contact the store where the tomato purchase was made.
Symptoms of food poisoning begin eight to 72 hours after eating food contaminated with Salmonella. These symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, lasting from one to five days. Dehydration can be a complication in severe cases. People generally recover without antibiotic treatment, although they may feel tired for a week after the active symptoms subside.
How to protect your family: Salmonella can be transmitted to humans when fecal material from animals or humans contaminates food. Symptoms are similar to the flu, but the poisoning can be fatal to young children, pregnant women and other people with weakened immune systems. There is no way for consumers to detect salmonella (you can’t smell, taste or see it), but there are some things you can do to reduce the risk to yourself and your family:
Wash all produce thoroughly with cold running water (whether organic or not), scrubbing them gently with your hands or with a vegetable brush, and cut away the part that is attached to the plant and the button on the other side. That part can carry a foodborne illness, and organisms can attach themselves to it. Cooking tomatoes at 145 degrees will kill salmonella. Remove outer layers of cabbage and lettuce. Fruits should be washed, regardless of whether you are eating the peel; even if someone is peeling an orange, that person is touching part of the orange he is going to eat. (Bananas are an exception.)
Don’t bother with a special vegetable wash because studies show that it’s not much better than water. Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before handling food. Wash your hands if you come in contact with pet feces, use the bathroom or change a baby’s diaper.Wash cutting boards, counters and utensils to avoid cross-contamination. Avoid any kind of contact with raw meat when preparing fresh vegetables. Refrigerate sliced up fruits and vegetables.