Salmonella in raw red tomatoes: fda adds more states and part of mexico to list of safe growers

Salmonella in raw red tomatoes: fda adds more states and part of mexico to list of safe growers

On 14th June, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added the Mexican state of Baja California (norte) and the US states of New Mexico and Indiana to the list of places cleared of being the source of a rare form of salmonella contamination in raw red plum, red Roma, round red tomatoes, and products derived from them.

The agency said it was safe to eat these types of tomatoes grown in these regions because they have not been linked to the recent outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul, an uncommon type of Salmonella, that has sickened 228 people since April, including 25 who had to be treated in hospital.

By analysing distribution patterns and using what they call "traceback", the federal agency has now cleared 37 states, plus parts of Florida, and several regions outside the US, including Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, and now, Baja California (Norte) in Mexico.

For the full list of cleared regions visit this FDA web page:

Tomatoes grown in Florida that are cleared will have a certificate issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and tomatoes harvested in Baja California (Norte) that are safe to eat will be allowed into the US if they have a certificate issued by the Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario del Gobierno del Estado de Baja California (Agency), said the FDA announcement on their website.

If you are not sure where the tomatoes you intend to purchase or consume came from, then ask the store to tell you. If you don't have the information, don't eat them, said the agency.

And remember, raw tomatoes can find their way into lots of dishes such as fresh salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo, and perhaps not so obvious, is their use as fillings in tortillas and other dishes.

Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes with the vine still attached have not been linked to the latest outbreak, and should be safe to eat, as are home grown tomatoes.

The FDA offers this advice to consumers on safe handling, storage and preparation of fresh tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables in order to avoid foodborne illnesses:

  • Don't buy produce that appears bruised or damaged.
  • When choosing your fresh produce, for instance a half watermelon or bag of mixed salad greens, choose only those that are refrigerated or packed in ice.
  • Bag or wrap fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafoods before you take them home.
  • Some fresh fruit and vegetables, such as strawberries, lettuce, mushrooms and herbs, should be stored in a clean refrigerator at a minimum temperature of 40 deg F (4.4 deg C).
  • Ask your grocer if you don't know what temperature a food item should be stored at.
  • If you buy any fruits or vegetables that are pre-cut or peeled, keep them in the refrigerator to make sure they stay fresh and safe.
  • Cut away damaged or bruised areas before preparing and eating. Throw away anything that looks rotten.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly before eating, including home grown, that bought at farmer's markets, and local groceries.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting or cooking, even if you peel them.
  • Don't wash fruit or vegetables with commercial detergents or product washes.
  • Scrub any firm fruits or vegetables such as melons and cucumbers with a clean product brush.
  • Dry fruits and vegetables only with a clean cloth towel or clean paper towel to further reduce the amount of bacteria that may be on them.
Click here for Questions and Answers on the salmonella in tomato outbreak from the FDA (for consumers and industry).

Sources: FDA.

Part of Mexico Cleared in Salmonella Probe (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Other