Tomatoes going back on shelves

Round red tomatoes are slowly returning to the shelves of Cayman’s stores after the US Food and Drug Administration gave the all clear to more states as well as several Florida counties growing the fruit at the centre of a salmonella scare.

By Wednesday, the FDA had taken 19 counties in Florida off the list of places from which the salmonella outbreak from tainted tomatoes is believed to have originated.

Cayman stores get much of their supply of tomatoes from Florida.

Renrick Christian, store manager at Kirk’s, which had pulled plum, Roma and round red tomatoes from its shelves, said he was awaiting final approval to put the fruit back on sale.

‘The Department of Environmental Health asked us to temporarily remove them as a precautionary measure on Tuesday. We have received information from our supplier in Florida that the area we receive our supplies from is not an area suspected in this outbreak,’ Mr. Christian said.

Woody Foster of Foster’s supermarket said: ‘We’ve seen a notice from the FDA that Florida has been approved, we’re just waiting to be officially informed and we can put everything back on the shelves.’

Red plum, Roma and other round tomatoes have been linked to at least 167 cases of salmonella, with at least 23 hospitalisations, in 17 US states.

The Department of Agriculture will monitor shipments of tomatoes in Cayman to ensure that imports originate from areas that have been cleared by the FDA.

‘We’re working very closely with the Department of Environmental Health on this. They’re taking the lead in regards of what is already in country,’ Assistant Director of Agriculture Brian Crichlow said.

‘Our primary position is in terms of what will be coming in as imports. We’ll be checking documentation regarding the source of origin to make sure the tomatoes come from areas the FDA has stated as being clear of the salmonella outbreak.’

The Cayman Islands’ Department of Environmental Health issued a statement earlier this week advising the public of the FDA alert regarding the salmonella scare. It advised suppliers, stores and restaurants to temporarily withdraw certain kinds of tomatoes as a precautionary step.

The recall does not affect grape or cherry tomatoes, or those sold on the vine.

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