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N.C. tomatoes safe, officials say

Posted June 9, 2008

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— The federal Food and Drug Administration is warning of a widespread salmonella outbreak involving certain types of tomatoes, but consumers buying North Carolina’s harvest of tomatoes are safe.

The state’s tomato harvest is now finding its way to market, which qualifies it for the FDA’s Safe List.

“It’s another example of the benefits here in North Carolina, of looking for North Carolina produce, buying North Carolina produce, going to your local farmer’s market,” said Brian Long, public affairs director of the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Affairs.

Amid the salmonella scare, tomatoes are being pulled from store shelves across the country. McDonald’s restaurants announced they will no longer serve tomatoes until the source is found.

The FDA said the source is either red plum, red round or Roma tomatoes. Long said people purchasing those types of tomatoes should find out where they came from. There are 27 other states and foreign countries on the government’s safe list.

Cherry and grape tomatoes and ones with the vine still attached are not affected by the outbreak. If you're unsure where the tomatoes have come from, experts say to cook them.

Bear Rock Café owners have been monitoring the government’s advisories. The chain is still serving tomatoes that come from North Carolina.

“We’re fortunate we have not been affected. Unfortunately, in the industry, how many people have been affected by it? But we are very fortunate in North Carolina,” said Bill Baker, regional manager for Bear Rock Café.

North Carolina could benefit from the nationwide scare, especially with some of the larger farms shipping tomatoes to other states.

“The more demand we have for North Carolina produce, the better off our economy will be, the better off our consumers will be, and the better off our farmers will be,” Long said.

Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. It usually is transmitted to humans by eating food contaminated with animal feces.

Most infected people suffer fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps starting 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness tends to last four to seven days. Many people recover without treatment, but severe infection and death are possible.

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  • thefensk Jun 10, 2008

    Don't assume that anything you buy at the farmer's market (or any farmer's market) is locally grown. A lot is, I know, but don't assume anything. Ask.

  • shine Jun 10, 2008

    I am not implying there is anything wrong with the Chilean produce........ I have eaten a ton of it - prob. since the first of the year.

    The tomato episode is a different story - I do know that there are very strict standards for US produce - - - and support your local farmer's market..... Home grown tomatoes are better.

  • -Enter Screen Name- Jun 10, 2008

    Is it me, or does anyone else have a problem with this logic:

    FTA: The state’s tomato harvest is now finding its way to market, which qualifies it for the FDA’s Safe List.

    So, the tomatoes are safe BECAUSE they are on the market? Shouldn't it be the other way around (they are on the market BECAUSE they are safe?)

  • shine Jun 10, 2008

    Most of your produce and fruit has a sticker on the individual pieces - alot of times it will say where it is from......
    Be careful of the 'Chilean' fruits [ product of Chili ].

    I read back some time that they do not use the restrictions the US uses...

    Now I primarily shop at the Food Lion because I don't have much choice without driving a ways...... I know that Food Lion and I am sure Walmart brings in alot of produce from Chili and other countries.

    One of my sisters shops at either the farmer's market or Costco..( don't have one of those close to me ) She said the produce there is better...... I think also Harris Teeter.... if you have one of those close.

    I had two go arounds recently with something I thought was the flu --- and now remembering I was eating fresh raw tomatoes the night or a couple of days before.... Might have answered my question of what was wrong.

  • garnertoy Jun 10, 2008

    scary everytime you go out and eat you are taking a chance