By Michelle Fabio
After being under investigation as the possible cause of a recent salmonella outbreak in America, tomatoes have been ruled safe to eat by the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA has now turned its attention to raw jalapeÃ±o and serrano peppers as the possible culprit; the confusion as to whether tomatoes had been involved may come from the fact that both of these ingredients are found in Mexican foods like salsa which many of those affected had eaten.
No tomatoes from farms in Mexico and southern Florida have tested positive for the rare Saintpaul strain of salmonella that has caused over 1,000 illnesses in the United States over the past few months. Dr. David Acheson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for foods, says it is “highly unlikely” that tomatoes were involved in the outbreak and that consumers should know that “tomatoes that are currently in stores and coming on to the market – domestic and imported – are O.K.”
Officials still aren’t sure what caused the outbreak, and although between 20 and 30 cases are still being reported everyday, the epidemic is “waning” according to FDA officials. However, since there is still some risk, the FDA warns that those with potentially compromised immune systems including infants and elderly people should avoid the aforementioned jalapeÃ±o and serrano peppers.
Former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has been quoted as saying that the salmonella scare cost tomato growers approximately $450 million.