FDA issues tomato warning to all 50 states

Salmonella food poisoning first linked to uncooked tomatoes has spread to 16 states, federal health officials said Saturday. At least 23 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported, she said. Patients ranged in age from 1 to 82.

Neither Ohio nor Michigan are among those 16 states. We have not had a reported salmonella case from tomatoes.

In response to the problem however, the FDA has issued a tomato warning to consumers in all 50 states, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

The rarity of the Saint Paul strain and the number of illnesses "suggest that implicated tomatoes are distributed throughout the country," she said.

What tomatoes can I eat?

FDA advice to consumers

At this time, FDA is advising U.S. consumers to limit their tomato consumption to those that are not the likely source of this outbreak.

Tomatoes that are ok to eat:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • grape tomatoes
  • tomatoes sold with the vine still attached
  • tomatoes grown at home

Tomatoes to avoid:

  • raw, round red tomatoes*
  • raw Roma tomatoes*
  • raw, red plum tomatoes*

*You can check the source of these tomato types. If they are from a source that has been roven not to be the source of the outbreak, the FDA says the are fine.

NOTES: Remember this means both at the grocery store and restaurants. It is for raw tomatoes only. Also remember that raw tomatoes are often used in meals including sandwhches, fresh salsa, and guacamole, among many others.

General information to avoid salmonella:

  • Refrigerate within 2 hours or discard cut, peeled, or cooked tomatoes.
  • Avoid purchasing bruised or damaged tomatoes and discard any that appear spoiled.
  • Thoroughly wash all tomatoes under running water.
  • Keep tomatoes that will be consumed raw separate from raw meats, raw seafood, and raw produce items.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot water and soap when switching between types of food products.

Posted by LS