The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Campus removes suspect tomatoes from all eateries

Tomatoes were pulled from campus food services on June 9 after officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers of a nationwide salmonella outbreak.

Signs posted around campus eateries informed customers that CSUN has terminated the use of tomatoes pending the salmonella outbreak investigation.

Though the FDA has ruled out California-grown tomatoes as the source, Amber Christopherson, Sierra food manager, said tomatoes will not be served on campus until the FDA gives them the OK.

Brendan Tinoco, Chef de Cuisine of Sierra Center, said campus food services have ceased all tomato orders from their supplier, Nature’s Produce, a large direct receiver of fresh produce for the food services industry in Los Angeles, until the FDA locates the culprits of the salmonella outbreak.

Tinoco said Nature’s Produce was unable to guarantee that the tomatoes originated from a California farm, so the campus had to destroy all tomatoes for precautionary measures.

“It’s also about public image,” Christopherson said. “When people ask where our tomatoes come from and we can’t give them a definite answer, it makes us look bad.”

“Luckily, we only had a bundle of tomatoes on campus because we slipped behind in ordering them and it worked out in our favor,” Tinoco said. “The school didn’t lose out on money and Nature’s Produce has been great with accommodating all our needs and request.”

The FDA warned consumers nationwide to avoid raw plum, Roma and round, red tomatoes unless they grew in states not associated with the outbreak.

Cherry, grape and vine-ripened tomatoes are safe to eat, the FDA indicates.

Restaurants, fast-food chains and supermarkets around the CSUN area have voluntarily removed the tomatoes associated with the salmonella outbreak.

Chipotle Mexican Grill stopped serving tomato salsa at its restaurants in 33 states, including California. The chain posted an advisory to its customers on its Web site explaining the decision.

Alan Benavente, a junior majoring in nutrition, recalls learning that infection from salmonella is the most common food-borne illness, and it is rarely reported.

“Even though I’m knowledgeable about food-borne illnesses, I still take chances,” Benavente said. “Since the recall, I have continued to eat tomatoes at little mom and pop restaurants that serve them.”

Representatives from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they are continuing to search for the source of the salmonella outbreak, which has hit New Mexico and Texas the hardest.

The first case of salmonella poisoning was confirmed on April 16, and the last on June 1.

Officials noted, however, that they are still receiving reports of new cases, though it is not yet known if they are linked to the same outbreak.

Salmonella is a bacterium that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, and it can transmit by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.

Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain and generally appear within 12 to 72 hours of eating tainted food.

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