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Department of Agriculture & Markets

 
Food Safety Alert
June 10, 2008
Jessica A. Chittenden
518-457-3136
jessica.chittenden@agriculture.ny.gov

Consumer Alert - New York Grown Tomatoes Safe to Consume; Not Linked to Salmonellosis Outbreak

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today clarified for consumers that New York grown tomatoes are safe to consume, and have not been linked to the recent salmonellosis outbreak in raw red plum, raw red Roma, or raw round red tomatoes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed this information late yesterday and expanded its list of production areas not associated with the outbreak to include New York.

On June 7, 2008, FDA alerted consumers nationwide that a salmonellosis outbreak appears to be linked to consumption of certain types of raw red tomatoes and products containing raw red tomatoes. The specific type and source of tomatoes are under investigation. However, preliminary data suggests that raw red plum, raw red Roma, or raw round red tomatoes are the cause.

At this time, FDA recommends that consumers limit their tomato consumption to tomatoes that have not been implicated in the outbreak which include cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, and tomatoes grown at home. Also, FDA recommends consuming raw red plum, raw red Roma, or raw red round tomatoes only if grown and harvested from the states and countries listed on FDAs website at http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html.

While New York State is a significant producer of tomatoes and ranks 13th in the nation for tomato production, New Yorks tomato season typically does not start until later this month. However, there are a handful of greenhouse operations throughout the State that are offering New York grown tomatoes, which are safe to consume and have not been linked to the recent salmonella outbreak.

Consumers who are unsure of where the tomatoes are from that they have in their home are encouraged to contact the store or place of purchase for that information. Consumers should also be aware that raw tomatoes are often used in the preparation of fresh salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo, are part of fillings for tortillas, and are used in other dishes.

Restaurants, grocery stores, and food service operators have been advised by the FDA not to offer for sale or service raw red plum, Roma, or red tomatoes and products made from these types of tomatoes unless they are listed on the FDA website.

For current information on the salmonellosis outbreak that appears to be linked to certain types of raw red tomatoes, visit the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html.

2008 Consumer Alerts