Courtesy MuffetDid you know that tomatoes are technically ovaries? They are. That goes a long way in explaining why eating a tomato feels so much like eating a raw organ, which in turn could be why they always used to make me puke (the ovary thing, combined with an early “no, really, they’re good” force-feeding session from my dad).
I’m getting over the puking thing, but I’ve spent many long and frustrating summers watching others eat tomatoes, apparently and inexplicably enjoying them. Well, it looks like this is the summer of JGordon, because finally tomatoes are making some other folks hurl too. That these plant ovaries are tainted with human or animal feces is, I think, icing on the cake.
A salmonella outbreak this spring, which has caused at least 167 individuals to become ill (23 of whom have required hospitalization), has been linked to consumption of tomatoes tainted with the salmonella St. Paul.
Salmonella is transferred to humans by consuming food contaminated with human or animal fecal matter. So, as much as you might like it, keep that fecal matter out of your food for a while, okay?
If fecal matter has somehow slipped past your guard, and your lips, there’s a chance that you too will join this latest craze. You’ll know it through flu like symptoms—fever, cramps, headache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.—inside of a couple days after contact with the bacteria. Generally people walk away from salmonella feeling a little queasy, but for some people (young children, pregnant mothers, and folks with weakened immune systems) it can be very dangerous.
As with the spinachy e. coli outbreak at the end of ’06 (which you can read all about on Science Buzz by going here) medical authorities are recommending that you wash your produce in cold water before eating it (especially if you don’t plan on cooking it—salmonella dies at about 145 degrees), and perhaps avoid eating the specific crop the infection seems to stem from for a couple weeks (in this case red plum, Roma, and round red tomatoes). McDonalds has already made the ironic move of temporarily removing sliced tomatoes from its menu altogether—to make its burgers healthier.
If you’ve got some tomatoes you don’t entirely trust, just return them, or toss them out. Or execute them.