At least 16 states have reported cases of food poisoning attributed to Salmonella Saintpaul bacteria found in raw tomatoes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning against the consumption of raw red Roma, plum, and round tomatoes. Raw cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes don't present a problem, nor do home-grown tomatoes, the FDA says. Supermarkets and restaurants, such as McDonald's, have temporarily stopped selling the at-risk varieties of tomatoes.
What the commentators said
This certainly isn't the first outbreak of tomato-related Salmonella poisoning, said the food litigation site Marler Blog. There have been outbreaks in the U.S. in 1990, 1993, 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2006. If there is a way to prevent these outbreaks, we sure don't seem to be using it.
"First spinach, then beef, now tomatoes," said the blog Adventures in Eco-Living. "There is a lot wrong with the way our food is grown," beginning with the industrial agriculture approach and its disregard for the health of land, animals, and consumers. "The truth is, if we actually saw where much of our food comes from, we probably wouldn't want to eat it." But if we buy local tomatoes from farms that use ethical and sustainable methods, we'll have more control over what we eat and how it's grown.
"So far, there’s not real evidence that eating locally farmed food is better for you," said Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times. "But there are many reasons to think it might be." And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a grant to study the local-food movement and its effects on the environment and public health, so there will soon be more data on how growing practices effect the health of foods and the people who eat them.