CA tomatoes are now a popular item

June 10, 2008 10:41:08 PM PDT
On Tuesday, the government determined that Florida-grown tomatoes did not cause the salmonella outbreak. They cleared those tomatoes for shipment and the trucks may be rolling as early as Wednesday.

The FDA is having trouble tracing back the contaminated tomatoes because, unlike other food products which have dates of manufacture or labels, nothing is required on our fresh fruit and vegetables.

"It's like looking for a needle in haystack, but instead holding up the needle you're holding up each piece of the hay and saying, 'This is not the needle.' That's not very helpful for consumers," said Sarah Klein, from the Center for Science in Public Interest.

In the Bay Area people are stocking up on the types tomatoes the FDA has determined are safe to eat.

Shoppers like Lois Price at a farmers market in Union City are now asking where the tomatoes they're buying were grown. Modesto tomato grower Louisa Pimentel assured buyers her tomatoes are safe.

"We growing in Modesto area in green house," said Pimentel, a tomato grower.
"So there's no danger in these tomatoes?" asked ABC7's Tomas Roman.
"No," said Pimentel.

Concern over salmonella poisoning from tainted tomatoes is spreading throughout Northern California.

"I was kind of confused about the whole thing. What should I eat, what shouldn't I eat?" said Diana Felix, a shopper.

The FDA now reports at least 167 cases of salmonella have been reported nationwide from eating fresh tomatoes since April. The FDA has determined that raw or cooked Roma, round and plum tomatoes should not be eaten. Cherry, grape and hot house or tomatoes with the vine still attached are safe to eat.

California organic, hothouse and Heirloom tomatoes were a popular item at the San Francisco farmers market on Tuesday.

"We just tell them that these are grown in California and there is no salmonella that's been found in California so far," said Dotti Fitzgerald, a Tomato Grower.

The demand for hothouse and organic tomatoes has grown. So much so that many supermarkets are running out of the tomatoes the FDA says are safe to eat.

San Jose's Zanotto's market Monday pulled all the suspected tainted tomatoes, which were grown in Mexico on Monday. They've run out of all but cherry tomatoes.

"I feel for the growers that now have all these tomatoes that they can't sell," said Dan Zunatto, from Zunatto's Market.

Restaurants like Sweet Tomatoes doesn't want to taint it's name by serving questionable tomatoes. They won't serve any type of the suspected tomatoes until the FDA says they're ok.


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