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Tomatoes, WaWa and the FDA

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
what gives? Went to get a quick sandwich at WaWa (NJ's 7/11, Circle K, etc.)

I know I know...but I was out mowing the lawn and live next door to one and was craving an Italian Sub with some BBQ Chips.

I saw a sign. Due to recent blah the FDA, for your safety, we are not serving tomatoes, with anything...........

couldn't even find a tomato in the store. :confused:

why are tomatoes going to kill me THIS week?
post #2 of 20
Apparently there is a rash of salmonella going around in tomatoes in the states.

check it : CDC: Tomatoes eyed in salmonella cases in 9 states - Yahoo! News
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
post #3 of 20
Can someone please enlighten in the heck does salmonella get in tomatoes or any produce? I always worry about it in Chicken, but I have no idea how it migrates into fresh produce:confused:
post #4 of 20
The salmonella bacteria isn't found "in" produce, rather it's found on produce.

"Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of humans and
other animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually
transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated
with animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look
and smell normal. Contaminated foods are often of
animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs,
but any food, including vegetables, may become
contaminated. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella.
Food may also become contaminated by the hands
of an infected food handler who did not wash hands
with soap after using the bathroom. "

As you can see, it's easy to transmit salmonella - a farm hand that didn't practice good hygiene - even a customer in a produce market that handled the produce - can transmit the disease. A bird flying over a plant and pooping on it could cause contamination. Even an animal from a nearby field that got into the vegetable patch could transmit the bacteria. Even the grower's dog, running and playing and pooping in the field could transmit salmonella.

Coincidentally, late yesterday a woman in a town in my county came down with the same strain of salmonella that's been plaguing the other states. California now has its first documented case of this particular strain of the disease.

According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, the FDA is recommending people limit tomato consumption to cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and homegrown varieties.

post #5 of 20
The most probable culprit for such a widespread outbreak is by using contaminated water for rinsing the tomatoes before shipping to market.

Most probably what will be found is a grower using water from a contaminated well or worse, using water directly from a pond or lake.

Heavy rains and flooding this spring may have contaminated many wells all over the US.

Although not a 100% guarantee of safety, it is always a good idea to wash produce. For tomatoes, fill a large bowl with cold water and one drop of dish soap. Let the tomatoes steep for a couple of minutes. drain and rinse under cold water. The very least this will do is decrease the amount of any bacteria on the tomatoes. Any reduction in bacteria gives you a chance to resist a possible contamination.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #6 of 20
Another Way Is Spraying Lightly With A Water Hydrogen Peroxide Mix Then Rinse. Chef Ed
post #7 of 20
Great idea!!! because it does not leave any chemical residue.
Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #8 of 20
If you cannot resist the tasty of tamotoes, but still worry to get infected by the samonella, then you can just cook the tomatoes at 145 degrees to kill the salmonella.

Always keep in mind, that never try to consume raw tomatoes for your own safety.
post #9 of 20

Tomatoes Or Here We Go Again

While reading my morning paper, I see that now 976 people have been infected by what the F.D.A says was Tomatoes. Of those 976 people 153 were treated at hospitals. The FDA still has no idea where the salmonella comes from. Now they are saying well it could be from cilantro, or jalapeno"s. Could be from Mexico, Florida, California or for that matter anywhere. Could be from the water supply, pickers hands or warehouse where they are packaged. For me, to many could be's .All of this just reinterates what I have been saying for years, that they are uneffective. As far as the propaganda they give you about how safe our food supply is, dont believe it. Look back at just this past year,spinach, raspberries, strawberries, lettuce etc.A:cry:ll recalled after the fact. There are some countries that do not want our meat, or crops imported to their shores. Until they hire more inspectors, this situation wont change.
post #10 of 20
I remember when there was a problem of a dangerous strain of e coli with cantaloupes. The source was found to be manure that was used as fertilizer, so that's another possible source of salmonella contamination.

I have read that salmonella can penetrate below the skin of produce, so that would mean (?) that rinsing with hydrogen peroxide is not a safe bet if it's contaminated.
post #11 of 20
I just joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) that is organic. Locally grown produce in season and I plan on freezing/canning a lot of it. I am going to have a huge tomato crop of my own too that can go in the freezer for winter. Locally grown by someone I know (she was at my BBQ yesterday) is going to be way safer than some mass produced crop of whatever.
post #12 of 20
Not if that person uses improperly composted manures as fertilizer.
post #13 of 20
All of this demonstrates what those of us involved in alternative agricuture have known for a long time; that the food distribution system is on its ***.

Part of the safety-&-inspection problem is that there are four major agencies involved (USDA, FDA, EPA, and CDC) which often have contradictory protocols. Even within the same office different departments contradict each other.

Another part of the problem is that the law isn't necessarily what we think it is. Government definitions often have nothing to do with reality, and the "guardian" agencies have to work within those definitions. Go check the official definition of "vine ripened" if you need any further proof.

And yet another aspect, perhaps one of the more important ones, is that people know better, but still choose to eat tasteless, nutritionally valueless, sometimes dangerous foods. So long as a significant part of the population thinks that a Big Mac is real food, and is willing to trade off the convenience it represents for the potential ill effects, nothing meaningful will be done about cleaning up America's food act.

Mary: Don't let JBD's comment scare you off. Your CSA will supply you with fresh, ripened on the plant, produce on a regular schedule that will be better than anything you can buy in a supermarket. It will be safer. It will taste better. And it will pack a nutritional power punch often lacking in factory-grown produce.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #14 of 20
She is using the same organic turkey manure pellets I am for fertilizer so I am not worried. :D And fresh picked weekly is going to be a heck of a lot better than picked at some under ripe stage and shipped thousands of miles!
post #15 of 20
Amen! to that, sister.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #16 of 20
Now, they are saying it could either be jalepeno peppers or cilantro...not just tomatoes.
I don't know what it is, all I can say is that everyday people get salmonella and since they aren't sure what it is, it could just be that the everyday cases are being more scrupulously reported and that there aren't any more cases than usually popping up.
If you think about it 953 people out of 30 something states is nothing..chump change really.

You have a better shot of winning the lottery overall. So I wouldn't worry about it too much.

And even though salmonella is something I wouldn't want or wish on anybody I'd take it over bochalism, trichinosis, or ecoli anyday.
post #17 of 20
That's a fallacious argument, bundens.

The CDC isn't comparing total cases against the population at large---which is what you suggest. It is comparing them against similar numbers of cases in previous years.

I don't know what the numbers are, off-hand. But for your argument to make sense, it would go something like this:

2005: 876 cases
2006: 1,192 cases
2007: 903 cases
2008: 953 cases to date

Nobody would be getting particularly upset if that were the case. But if the figures are more like:

2005: 197 cases
2006: 106 cases
2007: 215 cases
2008: 953 cases to date

that represents a quantum leap in the number of cases, and is definately cause for concern.

CDC has been doing this for a long time, and doesn't fly off at the handle.
They know how to track disease outbreaks, both actually and statistically.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #18 of 20
OK...I looked up some numbers because now you got me interested because I know that with all the food people consume and our given population now of over 300,000,000 in the USA I decided to look up some stats and see how prevalent foodbourne illness is in any given year.

Here's for california in the past decade:

Salmonella is a common cause of bacterial foodborne illness in the United States. The epidemiology and costs of nontyphoidal salmonellosis in California from 1990 through 1999 are described using surveillance, hospitalization, and death data. Trends in Salmonella rates and factors associated with prolonged hospitalization were evaluated using Poisson and linear regression models, respectively. There were 56,660 reported cases, 11,102 hospitalizations, and 74 deaths attributed to Salmonella. Reported case and hospital discharge rates have decreased since 1996. Among reported cases, infants had the highest rate (121 cases per 105 person-years), followed by children 1–4 years of age (40 cases per 105 person-years). The highest hospitalization rates were among the elderly and young children. Most deaths occurred among persons aged 65 or more years (59%). Among hospitalizations, gastroenteritis (61%) and septicemia (23%) were the most common Salmonella diagnoses. Salmonella pneumonia patients were the oldest (median age, 55 years) and Salmonella meningitis patients the youngest (median age, 0.3 years). These two diagnoses were the costliest, approaching $30,000 (median) per hospitalization. Having an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome diagnosis or multiple Salmonella diagnoses was independently associated with prolonged hospitalization. The estimated 10-year hospitalization costs for Salmonella were $200 million. Salmonellosis is a costly disease that disproportionately affects the young and elderly.

There are other comparisons I found interesting on the web...all as of the past decade of course. But the numbers are even higher than I had assumed...Although I don't think your point is totally lost heirloomer..because I suspect that a big part in diagnosis an outbreak is the type of strain they're reportedly seeing. There are probably 100's of different strains and make-ups ..assuming they're all numbered 1-100..if they keep seeing 52 under their little microscopes then I'm assuming that's when they start investigating. Sort of like "bird flu"..all that is, is citisosis, which has been around forever and it's just version b instead of a but it's not really much different from the other in that it's a zoonotic disease and it's still hard as **** to contract unless you're actually making love to a chicken or ingesting it's fecal matter...but birdy flu is for another forum. As usual though with the tomatoes it's a lot of media hype, just like with a lot of other things.
post #19 of 20
Pork recipe; What am I missing here? I saw a woman from Prevention Magazine say on an ABC news show last week that salmonella is killed at 145 deg. I was re-certified two years ago, and they were still telling us to cook chicken to 165 deg. because of salmonella. Can someone clarify the lower temp for me please? Many thanks.
post #20 of 20
One problem with all this is that different agencies have different protocols. Sometimes different "desks" within an agency have different standards as well.

For example:

The Homemakers at USDA extensions still say that to destroy botulism toxins you boil food (i.e., 212F) for 10 minutes. The Master Preservers at USDA extensions say that's not true, and the practice is held in disrepute as unsafe.

Meanwhile, CDC says that botulism toxin is destroyed at sustained heats of 175F. Nothing I've seen defines "sustained." Let's assume it's the same 10 minutes.

There's a long difference between 175 and 212, though, including effects it has on food quality.

But the basic question, really, is: Who do you believe?

And the even more basic question is, quis cusodiate ipsos custodians? Who will watch the watchers?

That used to be the media's job, in the day when journalists were trained to uncover the truth, rather than to create fear and controversy.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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