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By now you have no doubt heard about the salmonella outbreak link to certain tomatoes. The FDA is recommending that everyone avoid eating raw red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes and products containing these tomatoes. Grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and tomatoes on the vine are fine for consumption. Cooked tomatoes are also fine, no matter what the type. If you cook your tomatoes to 145 degrees, that will kill salmonella.
You cannot see, taste, or smell salmonella or any other bacteria, so washing all produce well is always a good idea. In fact follow these guidelines for all produce:
- Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before preparing or eating food. Wash your hands anytime you have gone to the bathroom, cleaned up a pet's waste, or changed a baby's diaper.
- Wash all surfaces that the produce will touch. If you put unwashed produce on the counter, wash it afterwards.
- Wash produce under cold running water. Even if you are going to peel it, wash it before you peel it. Rub the produce well with your hands. The action of rubbing it is what will remove the bacteria and the water will wash it down the sink.
- Do not use the same cutting board for meats and produce. Wash all cutting boards well before and after use.
What is salmonella?
It is a bacteria that is found in feces in animals and humans. Many people think they have the "stomach flu" but it really is foodborne illness. The symptoms include fever, diarrhea, fatigue, and cramping. People who have impaired immune systems, young children, and elderly are at higher risk of getting foodborne illnesses.
Tomatoes are a nutritious food, full of important nutrients like Vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, fiber, and lycopene. Don't avoid them just because of this outbreak. Choose the tomato varieties on the safe list, or simply used canned, jarred, or cooked tomatoes.
Image courtesy of JJ's Vegetable Garden