Wednesday, June 18, 2008

FDA says state-grown tomatoes free of salmonella

By Alexandra Sanders
Special to the Register

The Food and Drug Administration has declared Connecticut-grown tomatoes unaffected by the salmonellosis outbreak and safe to eat, state Department of Agriculture Commissioner Phillip Prelli and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. announced Tuesday.
"Connecticut shoppers can now rest assured about buying our own locally-grown tomatoes," Farrell said in a statement. "Meanwhile, we continue our work with the FDA and the Connecticut Department of Public Health to ensure that all tomatoes sold in our state are problem free."
The statement urged consumers who purchase tomatoes to choose Connecticut-grown produce.
There is no way to trace the source of the virus because of the various growing stages and ways that the tomatoes could become contaminated. Tomatoes can be infected with tainted ground soil, irrigation or water in the washing process. Wild animals can also carry the virus without showing signs, making it easy to spread.
"I know salmonella isn’t in the irrigation or the soil in Connecticut and the washing process is fine," said Prelli.
The virus causes serious and sometimes fatal infections and has made an impact even beyond on agriculture dependent states.
"The outbreak is affecting a lot of locations. People may not start eating tomatoes right away. It is a loss of income," said Prelli.Symptoms of salmonella include fever, abdominal pain, nausea and dehydration. Consumers who have experienced these symptoms and have recently eaten tomatoes should contact their health care provider.
There was previously only one documented incident of the virus in Connecticut of the 228 total cases in the United States.
In addition to Connecticut, four more sources were found to be unaffected by the outbreak including Indiana, District of Columbia, New Mexico and Baja California.
"The nature of a salmonella outbreak is that they have to figure out where it originated," said Farrell.
"And although Connecticut is eliminated from the list, consumers should continue to be careful and find out the origin of their tomatoes."
Although it is still alright to be wary, Connecticut tomatoes have been tested and proven safe and are ready to be strewn across a juicy hamburger or veggieburger at your next barbecue, officials said.

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