The Food and Drug Administration has a number of offices and groups dedicated to different facets of safety. One such group of scientists has been dubbed Team Tomato for its efforts to figure out why the produce is so susceptible to Salmonella and to limit outbreaks of such.
In the past, the FDA ran into one glaring problem when attempting to deduce the source of a tomato-based Salmonella illness: the short lifespans of the crop ensured that there would be no remaining contaminated product by the time the FDA was able to do something about it.
The past 13 years alone have seen a dozen tomato-related Salmonella outbreaks, and three more can be dated back to 1973. In that time, three people are thought to have died and 2,000 more to have gotten sick because of exposure to a contaminated tomato.
To address the problem, the FDA has moved toward a more preventative path than the previous reactionary measures enacted. Team Tomato’s research efforts in partnership with the Virginia Tech Agriculture and Research Extension Center have deduced that Salmonella can be killed by the Paenibacillus bacteria. The FDA will now partner with the EPA to develop a means of introducing this substance to plants in a safe and efficient manner.