Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" Is Over

Healthy living

June 19th UPDATE: Tomatoes are still causing a problem. The ill total has climbed to 383. Here is the latest info from the FDA. This link includes a list of states and Florida counties that sell tomatoes NOT associated with the salmonella outbreak. Of course using them would depend on being able to verify where the tomato was grown and trusting that the label was correct. I have enough trouble just finding out if the tomato was grown in the US. (I don't use produce from Mexico or Chile for example.) Many produce managers are unable to tell you where the produce came from. To me, it is a lot simpler and safer just to stick with the tomatoes on the vine and cherry/grape varieties.

Thankfully, tomatoes are back and nobody was seriously hurt--277 people did get sick though. While not an "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes", salmonella is nothing to treat lightly. It doesn't seem that there are any real answers as to why this outbreak occurred, but I always wonder if it had anything to do with improper handling.

When I Googled salmonella, tomatoes, I was surprised to see that this recent outbreak was not the first. There were cases since 1990.  Seems the Roma type have often been the culprits.

You know how your mom always told you to wash your hands? Well, you need to wash your produce too. My sister-in-law gave me the heads up on this years ago. She said she heard a speaker in the health field say that often people don't wash the outside of a watermelon, take it to a picnic, cut it, eat it, and then when people get sick, they blame the potato salad!

Since my sis-in-laws warning, I now scrub the outside of cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple and other hard skinned fruits and vegetables with mild organic soap and water. I give softer fruits and veggies a good shower in plenty of running water before eating too.

Now that I think of it, I should be washing citrus fruits* as well. Just because I peel them does not mean that their bacteria laden peelings don't come in contact with the edible part. (Think of all the grubby hands that touched your food before you did, and it will inspire you to give it a good bath.) 

I don't know if that is what happened with the tomatoes that have recently been in the news, but I suspect there are people out there that don't wash any of their produce before eating it.

By the way, they said that homegrown tomatoes were exempt from the ban. Since all the rain, my plants have really grown. Can't wait! 

More on tomatoes: Salmonella outbreak linked to raw tomatoes strikes about 150 This could be the reason salmonella affected the commercial plum and large tomatoes but not those on the stem:

Simply washing tomatoes can help, but it won't necessarily remove the salmonella bacteria, because when tomatoes are picked on very hot days and put into cold water to chill, salmonella on their surface can be drawn up into the fruit.

This is just my conjecture, the smaller cherry tomatoes would chill quickly once refrigerated and so did not need the cold bath? A grower would not want to risk tomatoes falling off the vine (thus losing value) and so the stem ones were never washed? If you read anything more on the tomato issue, please share.

*There was a recent warning about high bacteria counts in lemon slices placed in drinks and water glasses at restaurants. Often the server does not don the plastic gloves to do this bit of business like they do with other plating activities. Their dirty hands then come in direct contact with your beverage via the lemon slice. 


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