Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hold the Tomatoes

A salmonella outbreak gets the red out.

Around South Florida and across the country, restaurants and supermarkets pulled three of the most popular types of tomatoes from menus and shelves over the weekend because of a growing outbreak of salmonella. Shortages could continue for a month or more. You won’t find them at Publix and Winn-Dixie, as well as fast-food chains like Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle Mexican Grill. McDonald’s stopped using sliced tomatoes and is offering only grape tomatoes in salads.


The decisions came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday warned consumers to avoid raw red round, raw red plum and raw red Roma tomatoes unless they are confident they were grown in an area not associated with an outbreak.

The FDA says all cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached are safe, regardless of where they were grown.

Caught in the middle of this mess: Florida-grown tomatoes and the growers who represent a $500 million industry that produces more fresh-market tomatoes than anywhere in the United States.

Not good news for the already-struggling produce industry here in South Florida.