HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Get great advice


grayelf Jun 11, 2008 04:58 PM

Has the recent salmonella scare affected your tomato-ingesting habits?

  1. Veggo Jun 23, 2008 11:36 AM

    Florida update June 23: There has been a pathetic volley of political exchange, trading tomato producing states in Mexico, and tomato producing counties in Florida, as to which will be declared "safe" at least for the moment, with all the sophistication of a children's card game. It begs the question of whether science and public health have been trumped by politics and money. My neighbor just sacrificed $140,000 of tomatoes in his warehouse; they are dumped in pastures where beef cattle gorge on them.

    1. Boccone Dolce Jun 14, 2008 08:49 AM

      I tossed the pretty, ripe round guys I bought for my caprese salad. I'm sure they weren't grown here in FL but the sticker just said "certified organic". I miss Jersey tomatoes!

      1. mrsfury Jun 13, 2008 06:31 PM

        No. You may hate me. Creoles are in season. We are going to the Creole Tomato Festival tomorrow. The seafood fest is in the same area. Tomorrow is lookin' good.

        1. Gio Jun 13, 2008 06:14 PM

          Here in Massachusetts we can get a tomato hydroponically grown called, "Backyard Beauties." They are considerd safe by the Dept of.....
          But still, we will buy them and make certain they are either washed in hot water and/or allowed to shower the itshay away...Hope it works!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Gio
            racer x Jun 23, 2008 11:19 AM

            "make certain they are either washed in hot water and/or allowed to shower the itshay away...Hope it works!"

            Several people have commented in this thread that they feel safe simply washing their produce with water (+/- soap and dilute bleach solution).

            The risk of a problem probably is minimal with this particular tomato scare, given the small number of cases reported relative to the numbers of fresh tomatoes consumed, especially if your tomatoes come from any of the "safe" states listed in at the FDA link in Caitlin's post.

            But note that the FDA recommends that if your tomatoes have not come from one of the safe sites, you should NOT attempt to just wash them off, or to peel them, or to heat them. You should discard them.

            Incidentally, as we saw with the E.coli and the spinach, it's theoretically possible for pathogenic bacteria to become incorporated into the flesh of the food from contaminated water that is used to irrigate the soil in which the plant is growing. In that scenario, washing the outside of the food won't be enough to decontaminate it.

            1. re: racer x
              kmcarr Jun 23, 2008 02:27 PM

              While E. coli (and salmonella) can find their way inside the plant tissues the bigger (or more prevalent) problem is the formation of biofilms on the surface of produce. Biofilms are tightly packed colonies glued to to a substrate (i.e. the produce) by various carbohydrates. You CAN'T wash them off. They are also pretty impervious to bleach in this form. One thing that has been shown to be effective against biofilms is irradiation. Here are a couple of links:


          2. Chew on That Jun 13, 2008 09:47 AM

            Hmm I'm not sure what to think. Is the scare over yet? I have been to restaurants that have removed all tomatoes from their menu. And it's gotten to the point where I went to a restaurant that DID serve me a tomato and I was shocked! I didn't know if I should eat it...

            4 Replies
            1. re: Chew on That
              MMRuth Jun 13, 2008 09:53 AM

              FWIW - at my corner market in NYC, they had a sign posted saying that FL tomatoes are safe.

              1. re: MMRuth
                Caitlin McGrath Jun 13, 2008 03:02 PM

                The FDA has a list of tomato sources they consider safe - it's really quite lengthy, too. So, while restaurants may still be limiting their use of plum, Roma, and common round tomatoes, there should be no problem buying them so long as you can determine their provenence.

                Here's the list:


                1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                  Sinicle Jun 13, 2008 04:15 PM

                  As of 30 minutes ago, it seems that the location has been narrowed to Mexico or Florida

                  1. re: Sinicle
                    Veggo Jun 14, 2008 09:14 AM

                    "Florida's lone case was someone who had been traveling during the time of being exposed to the salmonella-tainted tomato. When a person gets sick, they assign their case to the home state regardless of where they got sick." Liz Compton, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture.
                    Taking into account the timeframe of the illnesses and the concentration of cases in the western states, Mexico is increasingly the suspect source, although no conclusive determinations have been possible yet. The first cases occurred in late April; the Florida harvest began about June 1, as I reported on a parallel post.

            2. Passadumkeg Jun 13, 2008 02:59 AM

              Living in Bolivia, we washed and streilized all fruits and vegetables before putting them away. Returning to Maine, we do the same. No worries, mon , we eat da tomatoes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Passadumkeg
                grayelf Jun 13, 2008 09:35 AM

                Interesting to hear what people are doing, thanks all. I think I'm with gmk1322, especially as there have been NO reported cases in Canada AFAIK. The funny thing is that SO who is an engineer and Mr Empirical normally doesn't want to eat tomatoes, which is why I posted :-).

                Passadumkeg, how do you sterilize fruits and veggies before putting them away?

                1. re: grayelf
                  Passadumkeg Jun 13, 2008 05:44 PM

                  A cap full of bleach and good ol' Dr Brunner's soap. then rinse in clod wate and put in dish rack to dry.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg
                    Scargod Jun 14, 2008 07:58 PM

                    Are you pulling our leg, Mr. Marco el Loco? I think I'd rather get sick first....
                    The last I bought was vine tomatoes, which aren't on the endangered list. I'd buy romas if I was going to cook them, but I have tomatoes leftover from last year's crop to use in cooked dishes.
                    I can't believe the FDA can't get this nailed down. Their restrictions and slowness in finding the source(s) are wreaking havoc with the farmers.
                    I can't wait till my first ones are ripe so I can stop buying them.

              2. g
                gmk1322 Jun 12, 2008 11:40 PM

                I haven't changed my eating habits at all. I look at the statistics: around 160 people have been reported to have salmonella from tomatoes in a country with a population of over 300 million...very few cases or severely underreported.

                1. m
                  melly Jun 12, 2008 11:45 AM

                  I grow my own.

                  1. Foodnerds Jun 12, 2008 08:40 AM

                    Living in San Diego, a lot of our produce comes from Mexico, including tomatoes. I buy locally grown from the farmer's market and occasionally the mexican cherry or grape tomatoes from Trader Joes. We ate some of the mexican grape tomatoes last night, so far so good.

                    1. e
                      eartha Jun 12, 2008 07:39 AM

                      "No, because I grow my own", said she, gleefully.

                      Just enjoyed my first ripe "Stupic" tomato two days ago, a new variety for me this year, and it was delicious. Smaller than a Better Girl and very sweet. I can now have at least one a day, they are coming on steadily, and Sweet 100s are going to bear lots of fruit soon, as well.

                      "Oh, dear", she thought. "Did that post sound the least bit 'tomato superior'?"

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: eartha
                        davmar77 Jun 12, 2008 08:04 AM

                        tomato envy? ;-)

                        1. re: davmar77
                          eartha Jun 12, 2008 08:43 AM

                          I share with my friends and neighbors, dav. "Oh, were you closer..."

                        2. re: eartha
                          Gio Jun 12, 2008 05:53 PM

                          I used to grow my own starting them from seed from either the
                          Seed Savers Exchange
                          the Seeds of Change....

                          Unfortunately can't do that anymore... have you ever tried the Dona variety of French Market tomatoes? http://store.tomatofest.com/Dona_p/tf...
                          Absolutely fabulous. I so miss these....

                          1. re: eartha
                            NE_Elaine Jun 13, 2008 03:40 AM

                            I am very envious, I just have little green marbles on my tomato plants.

                            Come on baby - grow!!!!

                            1. re: NE_Elaine
                              Passadumkeg Jun 13, 2008 05:41 PM

                              Ours are 9" tall. Sometimes when we have a green winter we get a fine crop of green tomatoes( fried and pickled).

                          2. Gio Jun 12, 2008 07:09 AM

                            Yesterday we returned a dozen plum tomatoes I was going to slow roast as for sun-dried...just didn't want to take the chance. I heard that even cooking the affected tomatoes won't help because if the salmonella has been on the fruit long enough, i.e. shipping, etc., then most likely it's in the flesh as well. This was from the medical adviser on yesterday's Today Show.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Gio
                              hsk Jun 12, 2008 07:04 PM

                              If you were slow roasting to at least 165 degrees you should be OK. I haven't tried drying my own... How do you do it?

                              1. re: hsk
                                Gio Jun 12, 2008 08:25 PM

                                I slice the tomatoes in half through "the equator".
                                Place them cut side up on a roasting pan.
                                Drizzle with EVOO.
                                Sprinkle them with Kosher salt & FG black pepper and herbes de Provence.
                                Put them in a preheated 300* oven for 4 hours.

                                When cool they are stacked in a covered glass bowl after an extra drizzle of olive oil...in the fridge.

                                They're usually used up within the week, but I think they would keep longer than that in the fridge.

                                I thought that since the drying temp was low it would serve as an incubator..... so I decided not to take the chance.

                                1. re: Gio
                                  hsk Jun 12, 2008 08:33 PM

                                  300 degrees is NOT low, especially for 4 hours. You're fine. Salmonella is easily destroyed by cooking.

                                  1. re: hsk
                                    Gio Jun 12, 2008 08:41 PM

                                    I always thought so until I heard that when the food has been sitting with the bacteria for some time the salmonella does indeed get into the flesh of whatever....and cooking doesn't destroy it. See my reply just above. I wish it wasn't true, but I'm afaid it is. : - (

                            2. t
                              tlegray Jun 11, 2008 08:40 PM

                              No. I get cherry or grape tomatoes which aren't affected.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tlegray
                                davmar77 Jun 12, 2008 06:58 AM

                                same here so no changes.

                              2. b
                                Bob Frable Jun 11, 2008 08:30 PM

                                Hell Flying No, and in fact here in the Northeast, NJ,NY,PA are all on the safe list, so this should be taken care of, like...right now?

                                1. starlady Jun 11, 2008 05:18 PM

                                  I shop at the IGA where there is a HUGE sign saying they don't get their BC Hot house Tomatoes south of the border. Soo umm no :)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: starlady
                                    mpalmer6c Jun 11, 2008 11:42 PM

                                    I presume you live in Canada.

                                    1. re: mpalmer6c
                                      starlady Jun 12, 2008 11:38 AM

                                      oops, yup sorry :) Vancouver, BC :)

                                  Show Hidden Posts