Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of people and animals, with the common symptoms that include fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Most people can recover from salmonella but in some cases severe infection is possible which can be fatal if gone untreated. The recent outbreak of salmonella is the largest one ever tracked by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention with laboratory-confirmed illnesses reported. There has been at least 200 hospitalizations for the illness which has appeared in 42 states, The District of Columbia and Canada.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises all consumers to avoid raw red plumb , red roma or red round tomatoes, unless of course they were grown in specific areas that has been cleared of suspicion. They say that so far the cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and tomatoes still on the vine are still safe. To get the current updates you can check the agency’s web site .

The FDA also added raw jalapeno and Serrano peppers, cilantro and other foods typically eaten with tomatoes. They consider the elderly, infants and those with compromised immune systems as people with high risks. They advise them to avoid eating the raw jalapeno and raw Serrano peppers.

There are some basic food preparation tips that you should follow when handling raw vegetables, fruits or other fresh items such as chicken or meat. The FDA provides tips in buying, storing and how to prepare fresh produce.

Pam Ofstein, eDiets Director of Nutrition Services says, “If you are unsure where tomatoes come from, you shouldn’t eat them. When in doubt, toss it out.”

“Some may think that cooking, peeling or washing the items can do the trick and make them safe to eat,” says Ofstein. “This is not true. If you are handling a contaminated item, it can be passed along to anything you may touch. Even cooking the tomatoes won’t ensure that salmonella is eliminated.”

Jan Barrett

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