All tomatoes cleared for consumption

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared all fresh tomatoes on the market as safe for consumption, but questions about how and when public health agencies inform the public and issue advisories such as those in the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak are just beginning to be assessed.

Dr. David Acheson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for foods, said this afternoon,

"We are lifting the tomato warning and we believe that consumers can now enjoy all types of fresh tomatoes.”

Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said,

"It’s clear to us that tomatoes do not explain all the clusters.”

The government still doesn’t know what caused the salmonella outbreak, which has sickened at least 1,220 people, but reiterated earlier warnings that the people most at risk of salmonella should avoid hot peppers — jalapenos and serranos.

Acheson said that within the past 48 hours the FDA sent a team to Mexico to investigate a packing house that receives peppers from a number of farms. He said the investigation there is ongoing, but it’s not believed that the firm also processes tomatoes.