Tomatoes Get the All Clear

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Officials with the Food and Drug Administration have given fresh tomatoes the A-okay in the U.S. The office has dropped its warning on eating fresh tomatoes, some of which had been found to have traces of salmonella. In all, there were 1,220 confirmed cases in humans with 242 sent to the hospital.

Tomatoes are a huge source of nutrients, including lycopene, which is extremely healthy for the heart. Including tomatoes in one’s diet is a solid move for a person’s overall health.

The FDA issued this statement about the state of tomatoes:

“As of today, FDA officials believe that consumers may now enjoy all types of fresh tomatoes available on the domestic market without concern about becoming infected with Salmonella saintpaul bacteria.”

All in all, it continues to be the largest foodborne outbreak in the U.S. in more than 10 years. That is because salmonella has effected jalapeno and serrano peppers as well. But they, of course, are less commonly consumed than tomatoes. The original source of contamination is not yet known.

It began in April with tomatoes, particularly plum or Roma tomatoes, as the source of the contamination. The ban is lifted now, in late July, because it is nearly impossible that any potentially infected tomato is still on the market. No salmonella bacteria have been found in any farm or packing house that the FDA has investigated. As for the peppers, American and Mexican officials are working together to inspect a food packer south of the border that gets peppers from a few different farms.

Salmonella generally causes bloody diarrhea, but can be much milder than that as well. In many cases, people don’t know they have it. On the flip side, about 600 people die from salmonella each year, generally those whose immune systems are less strong. Overall, about 40,000 cases of salmonella are reported each year (and countless more go unreported).

It cuts right through the population, regardless of age and sex. The rate of illness is highest in people in their 20s. The outbreak has naturally made consumers a bit nervous, worried that they would be sick from eating bad food. What may come out of this latest outbreak is a tracing system for produce so consumers can check whether the fruits and vegetables they bought came from the infected farm or packing house.