What’s next, tainted buns?

In yet another blow to the burger, tomatoes have joined beef and lettuce as star players in that booming industrial-food genre, the disease-outbreak drama. This one involves tomatoes that carry what the FDA calls “an uncommon strain” of salmonella called Saintpaul.

Some 57 people have come down with salmonellosis in New Mexico and Texas, involving 17 hospitalizations, and the FDA is investigating salmonellosis cases in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and Utah to see if they link to tomatoes.

Evidently, industrial-scale lots of tomatoes came into contact with poultry processing. As the FDA puts it, “Most types of Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals and birds and are transmitted to humans by contaminated foods of animal origin.”

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And if this year is anything like the past few, this attack of the killer tomatoes marks the opening of a busy season for fresh-vegetable disease scares.