Many large chain restaurants including Burger King, Outback Steakhouse and Taco Bell are voluntarily withdrawing tomatoes from their menus. This comes after the CDC recommended that consumers avoid red plum, red Roma, or round red tomatoes unless they were grown in certain states and countries.
McDonald’s stopped serving sliced tomatoes on its sandwiches as a precaution until the source of the bacterial infection is known but will continue serving grape tomatoes in its salads because the grape tomatoes are not linked to food poisoning.
The source of the tomatoes responsible for the illnesses in at least 16 states has not been pinpointed. According to the California Tomato Farmers, at this time of year almost all tomatoes sold in the United States either come from Mexico or Florida.
Mexico supplies about one-third of all tomatoes consumed in the U.S. in the winter months and Florida is the No. 1 producer, with $600 million in sales annually. California is the second-largest producer, with $400 million in sales annually. According to the FDA website, even though people in Calif. have been affected by the salmonella food poisoning, tomatoes grown in Calif. are not the source of the problem.
Calif.-based Trader Joe’s, with more than 280 grocery stores in 23 states, also stopped selling the tomatoes in question and offered refunds.
Giant Eagle, which has stores in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland, removed the tomatoes from store shelves during the weekend as did other chain grocery stores stores.