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Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Salmonella Edition

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jun 10, 2008 5:12PM

Tomato.jpgDon’t eat any tomatoes! That’s the gist of coverage all over television, the print media and the internet this morning. According to the Trib, over 145 people have been sickened already with a special nasty type of tomato-based salmonella, bringing back echoes of the spinach fiasco of 2006. Major fast food chains including McDonald's and Subway have pulled tomatoes off their menu and, horror of horrors, Chipotle has stopped making salsa for the duration of the crisis. [Ed note: Just the tomato salsa. Corn salsa is still a go and is about ten times tastier anyway.] Apparently previous outbreaks were caused by a grower using pond scum to water their crops, but the FDA has not yet determined the cause of this most recent outbreak.

What can you do? Well, there are still plenty of tomato products that are safe to eat. First off, according to the FDA, grape and cherry tomatoes are safe, as well as any tomatoes sold on the vine. There are also warnings out against producers in certain states, like Florida. Later in the summer, this might be a good reason to stick to local, farmer’s market tomatoes – there is, as yet, no evidence that this is affecting any Illinois farms.

As always, be sure to wash all produce thoroughly and buy only tomatoes with completely intact skins – salmonella has a much easier time feeding on the flesh of the tomato. If you experience any strange food-related symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor.

Photo by big_nothing