HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
What's your latest food project?

Tomato recall still in effect?

food_eater79 Jun 25, 2008 08:09 AM

Is it safe again to buy tomatoes? I need my fix! :)

  1. Gio Jun 25, 2008 08:54 AM

    This morning's Boston Globe reported that 5 additional cases of salmonella infections have been reported, bringing the total for MA to 17. The article is slightly confusing, since the additional cases were reported in late May - early June. However, I'm assuming the restriction is still in effect...


    1. greedygirl Jun 25, 2008 09:16 AM

      I've done some googling, but I'm struggling to understand how you get salmonella in tomatoes. I've never heard of that before. Does anyone here know?

      7 Replies
      1. re: greedygirl
        Caroline1 Jun 25, 2008 11:08 AM

        The contamination comes from handling and/or field application of sprays. A few years ago there was a major problem with salmonella on cantaloup. Apparently people are either not adequately washing their tomatoes or it may be that the tomatoes are treated to make them shiny and the nasties are under the protective coating.

        The tomatoes that have been safe to eat all along are grape tomatoes and tomatoes with stems attached (usually hydroponically grown), and I'm not absolutely certain about cherry tomatoes. There were three kinds that were pronounced safe but I'm only certain about grape and stemmed because those are the kind I normally buy, so for me there has been no impact.

        1. re: Caroline1
          Halie Jun 25, 2008 12:36 PM

          so if I buy a bunch of tomatoes on the vine, wash them really well and peel them, I should be ok, right?

          1. re: Halie
            Davwud Jun 25, 2008 12:49 PM

            They say tomatoes on the vine are safe. Peeling and washing them doesn't seem as though it would make them any more safe.

            I would say that since they don't know the source, no one is gonna be willing to make that call. Use at your own risk I guess. But the risk doesn't seem very big if you follow the guidelines.

            I bought some tomatoes the other day. Ate them. I'm still alive. As I said, I'm in TO and there's been no reports in Ontario.


            1. re: Halie
              Caroline1 Jun 25, 2008 01:05 PM

              Don't take my word for it. Try this: http://tinyurl.com/6nhsku

              I've been eating stemmed and grape tomatoes this whole time with no ill effect, and I don't peel. Just rinse under running water.

            2. re: Caroline1
              goodhealthgourmet Jun 25, 2008 07:47 PM

              caroline - cherry tomatoes are fine as well.

              1. re: Caroline1
                greedygirl Jun 26, 2008 11:47 AM

                Thanks Caroline. It's disturbing me that you can get food poisoning from one of my favourite foods. Luckily I'm in the UK so I don't have to worry (yet).

              2. re: greedygirl
                C. Hamster Jun 25, 2008 12:54 PM

                Produce can be infected with salmonella and e-coli through the water that is used in their production, among other sources.

                That's how it gets "in" the fruit.

              3. Davwud Jun 25, 2008 09:21 AM

                Both McD's and Moe's here in TO pulled tomatoes. As of Friday McD's has no tomatoes and as of last Wednesday, Moes has them back on the menu.

                2TBOMK there have been no reported cases of sal up here.


                1. f
                  food_eater79 Jun 25, 2008 09:53 AM

                  Yeah I'm in FL, gotta go grocery shopping today. I guess I'll see when I get there with the assumption that if theyre on the shelf they should be ok.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: food_eater79
                    goodhealthgourmet Jun 25, 2008 07:48 PM

                    according to an article i read in today's paper, they think the contaminated tomatoes are from mexico AND florida - so be careful with locally grown tomatoes, foodeater.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                      MazDee Jun 25, 2008 11:10 PM

                      According to what I have read, the ONLY places still under suspicion by the FDA are Mexico and south Florida. The FDA website has all the info about what states are cleared. I live in Mexico and have continued to buy and eat the dreaded plum tomatoes. In fact, I have not heard of one case of salmonella poisoning in Sinaloa, my state, which I believe is the biggest exporter of tomatoes in Mexico. The news here has been about the drastic economic impact this scare has had on the industry.

                      1. re: MazDee
                        food_eater79 Jun 26, 2008 09:35 AM

                        Well I'm in Central FL, not quite south FL. The grocery store had all types of tomatoes on the shelf, but I'm just going to wait a couple more weeks before I buy. I could have asked the manager where the tomatoes were from, but it's not a huge deal. I can wait.

                        1. re: food_eater79
                          goodhealthgourmet Jun 26, 2008 04:48 PM

                          we just had dinner at a local turkish restaurant - tomatoes galore - and my nieces were talking about the tomato issue when our server walked over to the table. he looked at us and said, "don't worry, we get all our tomatoes from florida."

                          i almost choked on my mouthful of salad [which was rife with florida tomatoes, of course]. he couldn't understand why i was staring at him in disbelief.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            NYCubsFan Jun 26, 2008 08:01 PM

                            The counties currently shipping tomatoes from Florida are on FDA's cleared list http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopic...
                            and there is no evidence the contamination occurred in Florida. The rarity of the strain in association with tomatoes makes it likely the contamination is from a single source, but the way tomatoes are co-mingled and repacked, the source of the tomatoes is irrelevant, the source of the contamination is what is important.

                            1. re: NYCubsFan
                              goodhealthgourmet Jun 27, 2008 03:31 PM

                              well, since our server didn't tell us which county in florida the tomatoes were from [and i doubt anyone on the restaurant's staff would have known] , there was no way to be sure that they were safe.

                              i'm just sayin.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                NYCubsFan Jun 30, 2008 02:27 PM

                                Had they told you which county, would you have known if it was on the cleared list? My point is really that from what the FDA and CDC have said, if it even was tomatoes, the fact that they are from Florida, Mexico or anywhere else doesn't matter much. Since new cases continue to turn up after the alert and subsequent pulling of tomatoes from menus and shelves, the chances that contamination occurred somewhere along the supply chain (e.g., a distribution warehouse in Texas) is more likely if it even was tomatoes. Therefore, you could be getting them from California, Ohio or anywhere else, and they can still be traveling through the same supply chain and still be at risk.

                                1. re: NYCubsFan
                                  goodhealthgourmet Jun 30, 2008 04:49 PM

                                  "Had they told you which county, would you have known if it was on the cleared list?"
                                  actually, i would have, but i know i'm in the minority of patrons who show up at the restaurant armed with the necessary information :)

                                  didn't really matter - i ate the tomatoes before he even said anything. i was just surprised that he made the statement with such confidence, clearly completely unaware that some florida tomatoes were still under suspicion.

                  2. s
                    swsidejim Jun 25, 2008 12:40 PM

                    I am curious about this as well. I need a BLT...

                    I was at the store on Saturday, and they had tomatoes from Arkansas, touthing them as "safe", Ill probably wait another week or so.

                    1. PaulaT Jun 25, 2008 12:42 PM

                      Still in effect because they have not found the actual source. The assumption is that the salmonella is actually inside the tomato because washing has not helped and the stems being off allowed the bacteria to enter the inside of the tomato that way.
                      to find out which ones are suspect and where the safe ones come from.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PaulaT
                        food_eater79 Jun 25, 2008 07:45 PM

                        Thanks for the link. I'm still leery, and I didn't buy any today. Maybe I'll start growing them in my yard!

                        1. re: food_eater79
                          goodhealthgourmet Jun 25, 2008 07:50 PM

                          not a bad idea. apparently some of the contaminated tomatoes are from your fair state of florida.

                          thank goodness our local jersey tomatoes are safe...summer just wouldn't be the same without them.

                      2. mcel215 Jun 26, 2008 05:59 AM

                        Here in Boston, tomatoes didn't come off the grocery shelf at all. Although they were not available in most restaurants for about a week.

                        The interesting thing to me, was that I started to read the labels of where the tomatoes were from. In my market, they come from Canada, which surprised me. Why are we importing tomatoes from a colder climate, when we should be buying locally? I mean, this is the Northeast, we must have some green house tomatoes of our own. Nothing against Canada, but we need to support the locals.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mcel215
                          LindaWhit Jun 26, 2008 09:43 AM

                          mcel, there are some locally grown - in Maine. Backyard Beauties have been grown in Maine for the last few years. I'm pretty sure I've seen them in Stop & Shop and Roche Bros.


                          1. re: LindaWhit
                            Gio Jun 28, 2008 05:48 PM

                            We've been buying Backyard Beauties (hydroponically grown in Maine) from J. Pace and Market Basket for about a year now.

                            1. re: Gio
                              LindaWhit Jun 28, 2008 08:15 PM

                              I've bought them on occasion as well, and it's a treat to have a real, fresh tomato in the winter instead of the pink baseballs wrapped in cellophane (which I don't even look at).

                        2. Davwud Jun 27, 2008 03:02 PM

                          Now they're saying it may not be tomatoes.



                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Davwud
                            goodhealthgourmet Jun 27, 2008 03:43 PM

                            from the CNN link:

                            "We continue to keep an open mind about the possible source of this outbreak, as does FDA."

                            so if the outbreak turns out to be linked to something else, just how open-minded do the CDC & the FDA expect tomato growers to be about the damage this has done to their businesses?

                            the food safety & quality control protocols in this country need a serious overhaul.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              Davwud Jun 27, 2008 07:44 PM

                              I was thinking the same thing.

                              Who was it that said, "Now where do I go to get my reputation back"??


                              1. re: Davwud
                                goodhealthgourmet Jun 28, 2008 03:16 PM

                                ray donovan - reagan's secretary of labor [acquitted of corruption charges].

                                if this turns out NOT to be tomato-related, my guess is that the tomato growers will try to sue someone...

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                  Davwud Jun 28, 2008 03:25 PM

                                  And it could get really ugly.


                          2. ChrisOC Jun 28, 2008 11:20 AM

                            Wawa has begun putting tomatoes in their sandwiches again. They claim they have found a "safe source" I'm not sure I want to try them yet though.

                            1. Veggo Jun 28, 2008 06:23 PM

                              Florida tomato update 28 June: 1700 FDA tests in Mexico and Florida and other unnamed growing locations, inclusive from the fields to the packing facilities to the distributors, have all been negative for salmonella presence and have not yielded a scintilla of evidence to pinpoint the source of the 810 recognized salmonella cases since April 15. It has not been determined that the cause of the salmonella is tomatoes.
                              Clearly a daunting problem.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Veggo
                                food_eater79 Jun 29, 2008 08:37 AM

                                I guess no raw veggies for me til this is sorted out. Ridiculous. :( Although the parsley I used yesterday was fine.

                                1. re: food_eater79
                                  Davwud Jun 29, 2008 08:41 AM

                                  I think your chances of dying in a car accident are far greater and you haven't stopped driving have you??


                                  1. re: food_eater79
                                    goodhealthgourmet Jun 29, 2008 11:05 AM

                                    "I guess no raw veggies for me til this is sorted out."
                                    wow, really? that's pretty extreme...unless your immune system is compromised.

                                    i'm about as likely to give up raw veggies as i am to voluntarily stop breathing.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                      food_eater79 Jun 29, 2008 12:47 PM

                                      Yeah now that I think about it, it is kinda silly.

                                      1. re: food_eater79
                                        goodhealthgourmet Jun 29, 2008 02:25 PM

                                        i didn't say it was silly...just overly cautious if you don't have a health condition that makes you potentially more susceptible to infection.

                                        1. re: food_eater79
                                          Veggo Jun 29, 2008 02:33 PM

                                          I see nothing silly about efforts to protect our food supply.

                                          1. re: Veggo
                                            goodhealthgourmet Jun 29, 2008 02:39 PM

                                            veggo, the issue at hand was that food_eater was considering not eating any more raw veggies - for fear of getting sick - until the source of contamination is identified.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                              Veggo Jun 29, 2008 03:05 PM

                                              I hear you. This is a difficult environment in many respects. Paralysis is not an option. Self education and choice is available to almost all of us. It is not a perfect world....

                                  2. m
                                    mlgb Jun 28, 2008 07:24 PM

                                    For a good analysis, read this interview in Perishable Pundit.


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mlgb
                                      Veggo Jun 28, 2008 07:47 PM

                                      Interesting, albeit a bit lengthly in making its point. But we are 4 weeks beyond the previous 6 week study periods of outbreaks, when the dust began to settle and answers emerged.
                                      We are 10 weeks into it, and frightenly clueless.

                                    2. e
                                      EdwardAdams Jun 29, 2008 10:48 AM

                                      Last blurb I heard on this matter is that they are not even certain the culprit is tomatoes any longer. Thank goodness the local grown tomatoes will be on the market soon.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: EdwardAdams
                                        mlgb Jun 29, 2008 03:24 PM

                                        It's quite likely that the culprit was associated with tomatoes, but it may be that tomato-containing items like guacamole and salsa are/were also contaminated.

                                        If you read the link I posted (it's long, I know), they mention how a particular field of tomatoes is harvested, with eventually the produce winding up in prepared items.

                                        "Tomatoes have a vibrant lifecycle. A harvest today may go to a primary source today, but a week later may go to secondary channel. In other tomato outbreaks I’ve studied, prime tomatoes were first shipped to key grocery stores, then, as the crop aged, they were shipped to different classes of trade. The same tomatoes, with the passage of time, can wind up in supermarket chains, restaurant chains, convenience stores, mom & pop restaurants, wholesalers, processors, etc. All the tomatoes, though, were harvested at the same time. If you don’t understand that and try and trace back, the investigation can get very confused, which is clearly illustrated in this case."

                                      2. Chew on That Jun 30, 2008 02:49 PM

                                        I've seen tomatoes return to many of my local lunch places and grocery stores. I like to think they wouldn't serve or sell them if they weren't safe!

                                        1. theferlyone Jun 30, 2008 06:29 PM

                                          I thought this whole thing had blown over (or they were trying to place the blame elsewhere). I've eaten tomatoes a couple of times in the past week or so with no problems, but I went to Johnny Rockets for dinner tonight, and they still don't have them back. Use your discretion...get them from a place you trust, and you should be fine.

                                          Show Hidden Posts