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Save Them For Throwing

If you didn’t pick them off of your plants, wash them really well.

The Associated Press reports that Tomatoes eyed in salmonella cases in 9 states

ATLANTA – An outbreak of salmonella food poisoning first linked to uncooked tomatoes has now been reported in nine states, U.S health officials said Tuesday.

Lab tests have confirmed 40 illnesses in Texas and New Mexico as the same type of salmonella, right down to the genetic fingerprint. An investigation by Texas and New Mexico health authorities and the Indian Health Service tied those cases to uncooked, raw, large tomatoes.

Another 30 people have become sick with the same Salmonella Saintpaul infection in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, Illinois and Indiana. CDC investigators are looking into whether tomatoes were culprits there, too.

In Texas and New Mexico, raw large tomatoes — including Roma and red round tomatoes — were found to be a common factor in the 40 illnesses. But no farm, distributor or grocery chain has been identified as the main source, said Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC epidemiologist working on the investigation.

I have no idea what you do about salads in restaurants, other than avoiding them, because this shouldn’t be happening.

8 comments

1 John B. { 06.03.08 at 7:10 pm }

Bet you dollars to donuts this is why I have been under — deeply, deeply under — the weather the last few days (and nights). Ate at a local Mexican restaurant, twice, and after 72 hours it felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach by a heavily-shod horse. The wife says it must have been the lard used for the chips. I think it was the tomatoes.

2 Bryan { 06.03.08 at 7:39 pm }

This time of year we are definitely getting them from Mexico, because the ones I’ve seen are too big and ripe to be early local purchase.

Fortunately my Mother hates the skins and removes them by first “flaming” them over an open burner on her gas stove. That should kill most things that weren’t washed off.

The other problem is that people wash the vegetables but don’t bother to wash their hands after handling them, so they could be smearing the “wee beasties” on their hands, washing them off the veggies, and then reinfecting the veggies when they cut them.

My grandfather was a poultry farmer and he washed his hands constantly between operations to prevent spreading anything.

3 LadyMin { 06.04.08 at 2:24 pm }

My tomato and veggie garden is going to be in demand this year!

Anyone who has a garden knows how much better the tomatoes, lettuce and other veggies taste. No pesticides, no chemicals and now no diseases.

4 Bryan { 06.04.08 at 2:38 pm }

It’s the factory farming that creates the problems, I sure of it.

I remember all of the farmers in my family mixing seeds instead of monoculture because “if something don’t grow, something else will”. It didn’t maximize profits, but it generally insured there would be one.

Understand that they were growing mostly for themselves and their real money-makers – milk or poultry, but the concept is sound and it avoided a lot of messing around with chemicals. Crop rotation and manure kept things going.

5 Moi { 06.05.08 at 8:13 am }

OK, does this mean that if we bought plants from a nursery, that their seed could be grown from this stuff? Is this stuff carried through the seed???

We have 20 tomato plants in the back yard (I can them). This is unbelievable….

Gotta find a recipe for ketchup now, too, I guess?

6 Bryan { 06.05.08 at 12:01 pm }

It’s not the seed or the plants, its the conditions under which they are grown and harvested.

Assuming you aren’t treating your plants to industrial growing methods and don’t live near a factory meat farm, you have nothing to worry about [other than the various critters that will try to harvest more tomatoes than you do.]

The canning process is a good way of killing most of these things, and thorough washing should be enough for anything that is wind borne.

7 Kryten42 { 06.05.08 at 8:08 pm }

Hi Moi: As Bryan said, you should have no problems with the seeds (at least not things like salmonella). 🙂

Just make sure before you eat ANY raw vegetable (or even cook it) to wash it thoroughly. One thing people forget though, is to wash their hands before handling, and after! Let’s say you wash your hands, and then wash the veggie, whatever was on it (if anything) is now on your hands. so, wash your hands again. 🙂

I posted a good summer tomato recipe here if you are interested (for when they are ready to harvest, of course!) 😀

Mediterranean Chilled Stuffed Tomatoes

And be wary of ANY fast food outlet! Most have very poor hygiene standards. I’ve had severe food poisoning twice in the past decade (requiring over 20 hours in Emergency each time for my trouble and a lot of morphine)! Watch the staff… if they don’t wear disposable gloves and change them after each preparation, and if the place isn’t spotlessly clean, leave. We are lucky here, a trip to Emergency is fast an free. In the USA, you’d probably die.

8 Bryan { 06.05.08 at 9:40 pm }

Any restaurant these days is suspect, and most don’t let you see the kitchen. The prep staff are usually the lowest of the low regarding pay and everything else, plus they get rushed, so the constant washing goes by the wayside to speed things up.