Tomato scare creates empty shelves, menu deletion
by Hawkins Teague
Jun 18, 2008 | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While local sellers have either had to stop selling all tomatoes or particular tomatoes, Trigg County consumers should be protected from the salmonella outbreak that has affected tomatoes around the country.

According to information updated on June 12 on the United States Centers for Disease Control’s website, www.cdc.gov, 228 people in 23 states have been infected with a strain called Salmonella Saintpaul since April. At least 25 people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been officially linked to the outbreak.

“The specific type and source of tomatoes is under investigation,” the site said. “However, the data suggest that illnesses are linked to consumption raw red plum, red Roma, and round red tomatoes, and products containing these raw tomatoes.”

The CDC has also advised consumers to limit their tomato consumption to those that are not the likely source of the outbreak, which includes cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and tomatoes grown at home. The site advises consumers to thoroughly wash tomatoes under running water; keep tomatoes that will be eaten raw away from raw meats and other raw produce; refrigerate tomatoes within two hours of purchasing; avoid purchasing bruised or damaged tomatoes; and to wash cutting boards with soap and hot water when switching between foods.

Many news stories have mentioned McDonald’s as one the fast-food restaurants most affected by the outbreak. Jim Coder, the manager of the Cadiz McDonald’s, said that he received the message to pull all their tomatoes from their corporate office on June 7. He said Friday that he was still waiting for word about when they could start using tomatoes again, but that he hadn’t heard any complaints from customers.

Chris Reeves, the manager of Food Giant, said the store hadn’t been affected by the outbreak because their supplier, Associated Wholesale Grocers in Nashville, buys tomatoes from Arkansas, which is outside the affected area. Although Tennessee has had three reported cases of the salmonella strain, Arkansas is not on the list of affected states, according to the CDC.

Mallory Lawrence, the manager of Hancock’s Neighborhood Market, said that customers have asked about which tomatoes are acceptable since the outbreak became news. She said that although ripe-vine tomatoes were OK, she pulled Roma tomatoes on June 9, as well as any other tomatoes that could have been affected. She said she sent all the tomatoes back except for the grape and cherry tomatoes.

A press release from the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs Health and Family Services Cabinet said on June 13 that one Kentucky resident has tested positive for the salmonella strain. The Department of Public Health reported that a female resident of Louisville began showing symptoms in May.

“Foodborne illness is a serious threat to public health,” DPH Commissioner William Hacker said in the release. “As an added safety measure, we advise that consumers limit their tomato consumption to those not associated with the outbreak. Additionally, physicians should report all Salmonella cases to the local health department.”

For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.
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