Jun
11
2008

Tomatoes will make you puke. And sometimes they give you salmonella too.

A bowl of diseased plant reproductive organs: Or possibly not. Salmonella is tasteless, odorless, and invisible to the naked eye. So be vigilant, Buzzketters!
A bowl of diseased plant reproductive organs: Or possibly not. Salmonella is tasteless, odorless, and invisible to the naked eye. So be vigilant, Buzzketters!Courtesy Muffet
Did 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.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

While I don't advocate the force-feeding approach, I feel compelled to point out that salmonella-free tomatoes are the food of the gods, JGordon. :)

The best way to insure that they're not contaminated, as with all veggies, is to grow them yourself (if you're lucky enough to have that ability). Me, I'm just waiting for the first ripe, red, juicy tomato fresh from the garden.

posted on Wed, 06/11/2008 - 8:20pm
Lauren's picture
Lauren says:

well it's a good thing i don't like tomoatos plain :)

posted on Sun, 06/15/2008 - 9:32am
none of your businesss's picture
none of your businesss says:

Are tomatoes bad for you now a days??? I'm been wondering about it for 4 years

posted on Sun, 06/15/2008 - 12:21pm
Awesome People's picture
Awesome People says:

I love tomatoes. They are like sunshine on a rainy day.

posted on Sun, 06/15/2008 - 12:32pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

That doesn't make any sense to me. I wish tomatoes were like sunshine on a rainy day.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 8:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

o well i think people need to check there tomatoes. personally i hate them 2 dude

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 5:33pm
Josie plus Geneva's picture
Josie plus Geneva says:

First lettuce gets e. coli, now tomatos have salmonella... who would have ever thought bacon would be the healthiest part of a BLT? Hahaha. You have to love David Letterman!

posted on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 7:25pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

The number of tomato based salmonella infections is now up to 383 people in 30 states, with at least 48 people having been hospitalized for the disease.

It isn't thought that this jump in the numbers is from new infections, rather that states have improved their surveillance of the outbreak, and are better able to identify this strain in lab tests.

Also, tomatoes are on their way back to McDonald's. Phew.

posted on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 1:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I really think that the poor vegans and vegetarians must be mad like crazy. Some of them go on these "healthy lifestyle" to avoid things like this. Either way, eating tomatoes is hardly the worst thing you could do while having a Big Mac.

posted on Sat, 06/21/2008 - 7:07pm
Anonymous sure lets go with that's picture
Anonymous sure lets go with that says:

Too bad I love tomatos... we grow our own 2

posted on Sun, 06/22/2008 - 12:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thats kinda stupid that resteraunts in MN couldnt have tomatoes even though the tamatoes in MN were perfectly fine! but still, it kinda makes sence because they probably just wanted to be extra careful,im soooo gald taco bell has tomatoes back!

posted on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 2:00pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

It is frustrating when the bell has no tomatoes. The thing is, though, that the tomatoes in Minnesota restaurants usually don't come from Minnesota.
They now think that the salmonella-tainted tomatoes came from farms in Florida and Mexico, and were shipped all over the country. So most of the tomatoes in MN probably were fine, but if a place couldn't be sure that their tomatoes were safe, they got rid of them.

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 9:46am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yeah i'm a big fan of the tomatos. and taco bell. omg so good.

posted on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 7:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i never new that tomatoes came from Florida or Mexico i always thought they where from Minnesota

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 10:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

how do tomatos make you sick?

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 10:46am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Well, they sort of make me think about biting into a watery, decomposing internal organ. And there's that smell—not the smell of ketchup and tomato paste, but a bitter bile smell hiding beneath that. Most people don't notice it. That's how tomatoes make me sick.

But most people have been made sick by the disease salmonella. Some tomatoes got the salmonella germ on them, and if they were eaten before they were washed carefully, they sometimes made people sick. It's sort of like having a bad stomach flu: puking, diarrhea, and a fever.

Click here for some more info about salmonella.

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 1:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

tomatoes are gross!

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 12:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

They make puke up throw up for a hour. Tomatoes make you sick. So all you need to do is avoid tomatoes!!!

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 12:46pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

tomatoes make everyone throw up

posted on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 2:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

But New Jersey and New York have been proven safe, haven't they?

posted on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 3:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

YUCK!!!!!!!! YUCK!!!! TOMATOES ARE NASTY YOU FREAKS!!!!!!!!!

Someone who hates tomatoes very much.

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 12:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I love tomatoes but since the outburst i haven't eaten any

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 12:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Studies show that certian types of tomatoes haven't been discovered to be affected by the outburst. You could look into what those types are. Also, I have recently heard that the tomato outburst is mostly over, so it is probably safe to eat tomatoes again. If you still feel uncertian, try talking to your parents about the outbreak- knowing more about it could make you feel safer.

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 3:40pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

That's all good advice. And I think you're right—although the number of infections is up to about 750 now, I think, the outbreak is pretty much over. The types of tomatoes that seemed to be tainted were red plum, Roma, and round red tomatoes.

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 3:56pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hey, tomato-haters! It turns out that the CDC is now considering the possibility that the outbreak may not be directly related to tomatoes.

810 people have gotten sick, and the latest report came in on June 15--way after the outbreak was first reported on April 10, and weeks after tomatoes were pulled from shelves. The actual culprit may well still be on the market.

Stay tuned...

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 4:01pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Nooo!!

It has to be tomatoes! It was time!

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 8:16am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Sorry, dude.

The CDC is now looking at a bunch of different kinds of peppers, as well as cilantro, as the possible source.

posted on Wed, 07/09/2008 - 1:48pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Eeaaagh!!

Tomatoes are the sneakiest of fruits too!

posted on Wed, 07/09/2008 - 1:50pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i never really like tomotos anyway. the ovary thing just makes it worst

posted on Sat, 06/28/2008 - 3:15pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

If you wash all fruits and vegetables prior to consuming them, then contamination is not a concern.

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 12:33pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Unfortunately, this isn't true.

Once fruits and vegetables (like lettuce, spinach, or tomatoes) are contaminated, it's difficult to remove the pathogens. Washing helps, but it doesn't eliminate the threat.

posted on Wed, 07/09/2008 - 2:27pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Popular Mechanics has a summary of food-related threats and how serious they are.

posted on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 2:04pm
Gina's picture
Gina says:

I'm kiinda glad that i never really did like then in the first place. But still, thats kinda scary. i know ppl who like them, and now i wanna tell them more about this.

posted on Fri, 07/11/2008 - 12:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

tomatoes can now have diseases because of the way they are grown.

posted on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 1:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

tomatos and peppers are disgusting. they make me puke. i also dont like onions, seafood, eggs, cucumbers and celery.

posted on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 1:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

rotten tomatos especially.

posted on Sat, 07/12/2008 - 6:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

tomatos are the best things I have ever seen! How dare you talk about them like that. In your face!

From?

posted on Sun, 07/13/2008 - 1:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yup. That's why I hate tomatoes don't eat the stuff.

posted on Sun, 07/13/2008 - 1:46pm
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

But it's not the tomatoes! Check out this Buzz Blog.

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 10:11am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

No no no! It has to be the tomatoes! I almost had them beaten!

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 11:09am
bryan kennedy's picture

Laurie Fink posted a follow up story that explains that Minnesota scientists figure out that jalapeño peppers, not tomatoes, were the cause of this recent outbreak.

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 12:23pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

You mean you puke from apples too ? because they are ovaries too...

posted on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 8:59am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Yes, from them too. Anything remotely like an organ of any sort. Especially gonads.

posted on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 9:11am
booboo's picture
booboo says:

sorry time to seek counseling plants are not human and it sounds like you have some deep rooted issues (pardon the pun)

posted on Sun, 02/02/2014 - 3:15pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Hey, booboo! Don't be sorry! I've spent the last few years in therapy trying to work out the issues that are so apparent in this old post. Unfortunately, the end result is that now I both consider plants to be human and I'm disgusted by them. And I consider humans to be plants, and I want to eat them. Also, I will not pardon the pun. You knew what you were doing.

posted on Tue, 02/04/2014 - 8:15pm

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