Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

From the AP: Federal officials hunted for the source of a 16-state salmonella outbreak linked to three types of raw tomatoes, while the list of supermarkets and restaurants yanking those varieties from shelves and menus grew.

McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Kroger, Outback Steakhouse, Winn-Dixie and Taco Bell were among the companies that voluntarily withdrew red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes unless they were grown in certain states and countries.

In addition, officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District — the nation’s second largest — said Monday they have “indefinitely suspended” serving uncooked tomatoes.

UPDATE: Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Katie Smith announced today that Missouri grown tomatoes has been placed on the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) “safe to eat” list this evening. Local Missouri farmers have not been adversely affected by the recent outbreak of salmonella in raw red tomatoes that has caused some restaurants and grocery stores to pull tomatoes from their menus and shelves in recent days.

“Missouri consumers can continue to enjoy fresh tomatoes at local farmers’ markets and fresh pick locations across the state,” said Director Smith. “Some stores across Missouri are voluntarily removing tomatoes from certain sources and locations to be safe. Consumers who are unsure of where the tomatoes have come from should contact the retail location for the point of origin.”

According to FDA, consumers who are unsure of where the tomatoes are from that they have in their home are encouraged to contact the store or place of purchase for that information. FDA also recommends if consumers are unable to determine the source of the tomatoes, they should not be eaten. Restaurants, grocery stores and food service operators have been advised by FDA not to offer the sale of service raw red plum, Roma or red tomatoes and products made from these types of tomatoes unless they are from one of the states listed on the FDA Web site as “not been associated with the outbreak.”

For more information regarding the salmonella outbreak in tomatoes, visit http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html.

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