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Consumers Urged to Avoid Certain Tomatoes Amid Salmonella Scare
Date:6/10/2008

hat are being grown at home or in local gardens in the area should be fine," said Sharon Wilkerson, acting dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing in College Station. "The main thing is to really wash things, and [tomatoes] should be washed before removing the hull or stem. Tomatoes you see in stores that are multiples on stems are usually grown in hot houses, and they should be OK."

Several large fast food, restaurant and grocery chains, including McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Kroger and Outback Steakhouse, have voluntarily withdrawn red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes not grown in certain states and countries. Also, the Los Angeles Unified School District has suspended serving raw tomatoes, the AP said.

The FDA recommends consuming raw red plum, raw red Roma or raw red round tomatoes only if grown and harvested from these areas: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Belgium, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, the Netherlands and Puerto Rico.

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea in humans. Some 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States each year, although the CDC estimates that, because milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be 30 or more times greater. Approximately 600 people die each year after being infected.

The risk of infection is greater in the summer than winter. And children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for serious complications.

People become infected with salmonella by eating contaminated foods, usually ground beef, eggs, improperly pasteurized dairy products, undercooked pork and, increasingly, poultry products.

During the past several years, the U
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