A health problem across the country has flared up over tomatoes with cases of salmonella poisoning being reported. There has been more than 140 cases reported with 23 hospitalized according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Consumers should avoid raw red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes, but may continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, home-grown tomatoes and tomatoes with vines still attached, the FDA said.

Salmonella is spread by bacteria that seep into the plant from the soil or from tainted water. Infections can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, with symptoms appearing 12 hours to three days after infection. Symptoms can last four to seven days, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Supermarkets across the country have started pulling tomatoes from their produce departments. They say the cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and the tomatoes still on the vines will still be available though.

A list was released last week of states and countries that have been ruled out as the source of the outbreaks. These places were, California, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, ‘South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, The Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, The Netherlands, and Puerto Rico. The tomatoes should be safe to eat in these areas.

An advisory has been sent out Sunday after illnesses were reported in 16 states which include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Smith’s, Albertson’s, Winn Dixie, Food Giant and Texas Roadhouse have pulled tomatoes from their shelves.

When purchasing tomatoes right now I would advise asking where the store purchases them from. The next best thing would be to just start growing your own tomatoes. They taste better anyway.

Jan Barrett

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