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Time out for tomatoes

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June 9, 2008

Albany - Tainted tomatoes linked to a Salmonella outbreak have grocery stores and restaurants across the country taking precautions.

More than 145 confirmed cases in 16 states have been linked to several types of raw tomatoes.

Many grocery stores and restaurants pulled tomatoes from their produce departments and menus.

Shoppers are finding empty baskets at grocery store produce departments, and are greeted with signs at restaurants telling them tomatoes are no longer on the menu.

"There have been several cases mostly on the west coast of salmonella. And the common food they are finding is tomatoes," says District Environmental Health Director Dewayne Tanner. 

The food and drug administration said people should avoid eating raw round red, red plum and Roma tomatoes.

 "They are also investigating the source of the salmonella if it is the tomatoes."

In the meantime, people need to take precautions. "If its fruits or vegetables, or tomatoes, I usually rinse them off really, really good," says Fonda Strong.

  • You should avoid buying any bruised or damaged tomatoes.
  • You should keep all raw tomatoes away from raw meat, seafood or other produce.
  • And you should wash all utensils cutting boards and counter tops when switching between types of food.

"I'm a real big tomato fan, but it was okay," says Strong. "If its for medical reasons, I think its okay. If things need to be tested before they go back out on the market. I think that's a great idea."

"It's better safe than sorry," says Jamie Zapata.

Salmonella, if ingested, can cause diarrhea, fever, headache, abdominal cramps, and of course that is all from dehydration," said Tanner.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, see a doctor.

Not all tomatoes are linked to the Salmonella outbreak. Cherry, grape, and tomatoes sold with the vine attached are cleared by the FDA.

Home grown tomatoes are also safe. 

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