Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Know Your Tomatoes

Here is some good information on tomatoes from CNN. For more information, check out the FDA website.

So how do you know if your tomatoes are safe to eat? Here are some tips from the FDA on what to look for and how to avoid getting sick.

1. Know Your Tomatoes
The FDA still doesn’t know how tomatoes were tainted with salmonella. But they are telling consumers to avoid the following RAW tomatoes: Roma, Red Plum and Round Red tomatoes. However, these same tomatoes are OK, if they from certain states. You can find that list here.

If you want to avoid this type of detective work, cherry and grape tomatoes, tomatoes still attached to the vine and home-grown tomatoes are safe regardless of where they came from, according to the FDA.

2. If I wash the tomatoes, are they safe?
No. The salmonella might be inside the tomato, so washing won’t help. However, as a general food safety practice, it’s a good idea to always wash your hands with soap and warm water before you handle any food.

Keep those cutting boards and counter surfaces washed too and avoid cross-contamination—especially with raw meat. Wash each tomato thoroughly under running water. Only slice it after washing, and cut away the where the stem was. Bacteria tend to accumulate there

3. Am I safe if I just cook them?
The FDA doesn’t recommend this. Just stay away from the affected tomatoes for now. Better safe than sorry.

4. Eating out
Ask questions. Find out what steps the restaurant is taking to make keep patrons safe. Also, ask what kind of tomatoes they’re serving. If you’re really worried, just tell them to keep raw tomatoes out of your food altogether.

Don’t forget they’re often used in preparation of sauces, fresh salsa, guacamole, as tortilla fillings and in other dishes.

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