Salmonella update: fda says all tomatoes now safe to eat

Salmonella update: fda says all tomatoes now safe to eat

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its nationwide warning to consumers on Thursday, saying that agency officials believed it was now safe to eat all types of fresh raw tomatoes bought in the US, as this was most unlikely to be the cause of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that has so far infected over 1,000 people nationwide since April this year.

The agency is removing the warning it put in place on 7th June, that advised consumers to avoid certain types of raw red plum, raw red Roma, and raw red round tomatoes as it was believed they were the possible source of the outbreak. Consumers may now "resume enjoying any type of fresh tomato", said the FDA announcement.

However, while the warning on tomatoes is lifted, consumers vulnerable to infection, such as the elderly, the very young and those with weakened immune systems, should still avoid jalapeño and serrano peppers, as these are still under investigation. This is because an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that many, but not all, of the people who have contracted salmonellosis (the disease caused by Salmonella infection) also said they had eaten jalapeño and serrano peppers.

According to the CDC, there have been 1,220 confirmed cases in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, of people infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint since April this year. At least 224 of the infected people have been hospitalized. The outbreak is still increasing in numbers, but appears to have eased after levelling off in early June.

FDA officials are investigating a pepper packing facility in Mexico, in efforts to trace the supply chain for jalapeño and serrano peppers back to a potential source of the outbreak. The agency's investigation of tomato supply chains found no sign of Salmonella Saintpaul.

The associate commissioner for foods at the FDA, Dr David Acheson, said at a joint FDA-CDC news conference reported by WebMD on Thursday that the agency is not saying that tomatoes were never the source of the outbreak:

"The science led us to believe strong association with tomatoes," said Acheson.

"We stand behind that science that set us on the tomato track to begin with, but the science changes; it evolves, and we have to evolve with it," he added.

Th CDC's deputy director of for the food-borne, bacterial, and mycotic diseases division, Dr Robert Tauxe, was also at the news conference and said that the information pointing to tomatoes at the start of the investigation was "quite strong", and that:

"We have been interested and concerned form the beginning that a lot of foods are served together in items like sauces and salsas."

Most people infected with Salmonella get ill about 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Symptoms including diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps persist for about 4 to 7 days. Infection is usually confirmed by lab testing stool samples.

Most people recover without treatment, but severe infections can occur, and babies, the very young, the very old, the infirm, and people who have weak immune systems are most at risk.

When infection is severe there is a risk of spreading from the intestines to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and it can eventually be fatal, though so far, no deaths have been reported as being directly caused by this outbreak. Treatment is usually by antibiotics.

Click here for Salmonellosis Outbreak Questions & Answers for Consumers and Industry (FDA).

Sources: FDA, CDC, WebMD, Archives.

FDA Lifts Warning, Says Eating Tomatoes OK (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease