Don’t eat those tomatoes! Throw them at your alderman instead. Here is the press release from Cook County.
COOK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH WARNS RESIDENTS ABOUT CERTAIN VARIETIES OF TOMATOES: Seven Salmonella cases in suburban Cook linked to outbreak
Residents who may have purchased red Roma or red plum tomatoes are warned against eating these products, as some of these tomatoes have been linked to a nationwide Salmonella outbreak. The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are advising that red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes, or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes such as salads, salsas and cold soups not be eaten unless the tomatoes are from the following states/countries: Arkansas, California, Florida*, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico. Residents who are unsure of where their tomatoes were grown are advised to discard the product or contact the store where they were purchased. The warning does not apply to cherry and grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine attached, or home-grown tomato varieties.
Since mid-April, there have been 167 reported cases of salmonellosis caused by Salmonella Saintpaul nationwide, including at least 23 hospitalizations and one death. Illinois is one of several states reporting illnesses linked to the outbreak. In suburban Cook County, seven cases of Salmonella Saintpaul infection matching the outbreak strain have been reported to CCDPH.
Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after eating contaminated food items. The illness can last up to seven days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. Residents who may have eaten the raw red tomatoes linked to this outbreak, and who are experiencing symptoms of Salmonella infection should contact their health care provider.
CCDPH will continue to monitor the outbreak by working to identify the source of affected tomatoes and collecting case histories from those who became ill. Hospitals and health care providers are being asked to report all Salmonella infections to 708-492-2150.
CCDPH is recommending that residents always use caution when preparing fruits and vegetables:
* Wash hands with soap and water thoroughly (at least 20 seconds) before handling any foods.
* Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting or cooking. Wash under running water even if you plan on peeling the fruit/vegetable.
* Cut away bruised or damaged areas on produce before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be thrown out.
* Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
* To further reduce bacteria, dry produce with a clean towel after washing.
* Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
Information on safe handling of produce can be found at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dmsprodsafe.html.
Tomato consumer page can be found at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html.
Updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found at www.cdc.gov/.
For more food safety information, contact CCDPH at 708-492-2000.
*Shipments of tomatoes from the following counties in Florida have been cleared by the Florida Department of Agriculture: Gadsden, Jackson, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Charlotte.