By Michelle Fabio
With the source of the recent salmonella outbreak in the United States still under investigation, one food microbiologist in Canada is turning his attention to preventing the bacteria from ever becoming a tomato-associated problem again.
Keith Warriner of Ontario’s University of Guelph is working with graduate student Jianxiong Ye on a vaccine that would prevent the growth of salmonella bacteria in and on tomatoes during the growing and harvesting phases.
Warriner and Ye have identified that a combination of microbes (an Entrobacter and a bacteriaphage for you scientific types) may effectively stop salmonella from forming in tomatoes. So far the mixture has been tested successfully on mung beans because they grow faster than tomatoes, but further testing on our favorite fruits is still needed.
Remember that if a tomato’s surface has been exposed to salmonella, washing the fruit well should remove all traces. That said, the bacteria has also been found inside tomatoes and no amount of washing would be able to get rid of it.
“We hope that by using our biocontrol method that salmonella outbreaks linked to tomatoes will be a thing of the past,” Warriner said.
We tomato lovers sure hope so too.