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Salmonella outbreak causes restaurants, grocery stores to pull tomatoes

June 13, 2008|By JOSH SHAW
(Page 2 of 2)

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, and most people can recover without treatment in four to seven days. People should avoid consuming uncooked animal products such as meat or eggs and should wash their hands regularly when handling food products, according to the CDC.

The FDA also advises that people dispose of tomatoes that have been linked to the outbreak and not attempt to wash or cook the contaminated fruit for safety reasons.

Information about the salmonella outbreak can be found at the FDA Web site at www.fda.gov.

Click on "What's New" to get information about the salmonella outbreak.

What is salmonella?

According to the FDA Web site, salmonella is a type of bacterium. Fruits and vegetables that come into contact with salmonella may become contaminated with it, causing illness if eaten. Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of some animals, and can live in soil and water for months. Once salmonella has contaminated something, it can be spread from surface to surface. A tomato contaminated with salmonella can spread the bacterium to the hands of a person who cuts the tomato and to the cutting board on which the tomato is sliced, for example.

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Will washing the tomatoes identified in this outbreak make them safe to eat?

According to the FDA Web site, consumers are advised not to try to wash raw red plum, red Roma or raw red round tomatoes that are implicated in the outbreak. Consumers should throw these tomatoes out. Salmonella is very hard to wash off.

Can cooking tomatoes eliminate Salmonella?

According to the FDA Web site, consumers should not attempt to cook the tomatoes involved in this outbreak in an effort to kill salmonella. Handling tomatoes contaminated with salmonella can spread the bacterium to anything the handler touches, including hands, kitchen utensils, cutting boards, sinks and other foods. Cooking tomatoes in the home will not ensure that salmonella is eliminated.

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