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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Consumers

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FDA Launches Tomato Safety Initiative

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FDA is launching a Tomato Safety Initiative to reduce the incidence of tomato-related foodborne illness in the United States. The initiative will begin during this year's growing season in Virginia in the summer and in the fall for Florida.

A Collaborative Effort

The initiative, part of FDA's Produce Safety Action Plan, is a collaborative effort between FDA and state health and agricultural departments in Florida and Virginia. Several universities and members of the produce industry also are part of the effort. FDA investigators, in coordination with their respective state counterparts, will visit tomato farms and packing facilities in Florida and Virginia to assess food safety practices and use Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices.

Tomato-associated Outbreaks

During the past decade, eating fresh and fresh-cut tomatoes has been linked to 12 different outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States. Those outbreaks include 1,840 confirmed cases of illness. Most of the outbreaks have been traced to products from Florida and the eastern shore of Virginia. But tomato-associated outbreaks have also been traced to tomatoes from California, Georgia, Ohio, and South Carolina.

The Initiative Will:

  • Focus food safety assessments on specific products, practices, and growing areas that have been found to be problematic.
  • Help FDA continue to improve its guidance and policy on tomato safety.
  • Evaluate the need for more produce safety research, education, and outreach.

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Update page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Date Posted: June 14, 2007