Posted on 27 July 2008 by

World Health Organization Sets Classes of Tomatoes

By Michelle Fabio

On the heels of the recent salmonella outbreak in the United States that may or may not be linked to tomatoes, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that tomatoes be classified into groups to aid in trading and the setting safety standards, helping to prevent future similar contaminations.

This announcement came after a week-long, 124-country meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a food safety body who aims to “improve the quality and safety of fruit and vegetables,” according to WHO scientist Peter Ben Embarek.

Under the international code, tomatoes are to be classified by their size, shape, color, firmness and defects.

“Now it is much clearer for everybody what you call a Class 1 tomato, for example, and what you can expect when you buy a Class 1 tomato,” said Embarek.

The group isn’t looking to stop at classifying tomatoes, though. Embarek noted that leafy green vegetables and melons, also potential disease-carriers, are next on the list to be regulated.

“Within a few years you will have safety standards for all these products, looking at where the contamination comes from,” he said.

Hopefully such standards will not only prevent outbreaks similar to the recent salmonella outbreak but also make the task of pinpointing their causes easier–something with which the US government has struggled greatly this past month.

What do you think of international labeling and standards? Will the US play along?

Source: A tomato by any other name? Experts set food rules

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