Salmonella Scare Halts Tomato Sales

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These tomatoes may be safe, but others may give you Salmonella poisoning. Beware.

Bountiful grape tomatoes still populate Mickey D's "premium salad," but you're out of luck if you want a tomato slice on your burger.

Reuters reported today that McDonald's and Wal-Mart stores have stopped selling certain tomatoes. Chipotle and Target are also nixing tomatoes to play it safe.

On Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned U.S. consumers that the Salmonella outbreak—145 reported cases, including at least 23 hospitalizations since mid-April—is linked to raw red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes. The FDA says that it is safe to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, and tomatoes grown at home. (Salmonella is no fun—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the illness usually entails 4 to 7 days of diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.)

The FDA first alerted consumers about the risk on June 3. It has not yet identified the source of the contaminated tomatoes, but it recognizes that the source of the contaminated tomatoes may be limited to a single grower or packer or tomatoes from a specific geographic area—which one remains a mystery. Still, it's advising restaurants and grocery stores to pull tomatoes off their shelves.

Let's hope the FDA finds the culprit before the fast-encroaching tomato season. Tomato slices at McDonald's might taste like crunchy water, but a tomato-free summer would be a small tragedy.

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