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Tomatoes return to many Canadian restaurants


June 16, 2008
By By Pat Hewitt of The Canadian Press

June 15, 2008, Toronto — Tomatoes
are back on the menu at various Canadian restaurants. Several fast-food
chains and grocery stores in Canada and the U.S. temporarily removed
selected varieties of tomatoes as a precaution a week ago after some
red plum, red Roma and round-red varieties were linked to the rare
salmonella saintpaul outbreak in the U.S.

June 15, 2008, Toronto — Tomatoes are back on the menu at various Canadian restaurants. Several fast-food chains and grocery stores in Canada and the U.S. temporarily removed selected varieties of tomatoes as a precaution a week ago after some red plum, red Roma and round-red varieties were linked to the rare salmonella saintpaul outbreak in the U.S.
But now Boston Pizza, Tim Hortons and Cara Operations, which operates Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Milestone’s Grill and Bar, Montana’s Cookhouse, Kelsey’s Neighbourhood Bar & Grill, Harvey’s and Coza! Tuscan Grill, are once again offering fresh sliced tomatoes to customers.
Priszm, which owns and operates Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC in Canada, has also allowed the return of tomatoes to their restaurants. “We have advised all of our restaurants across Canada that they can put fresh tomatoes back on the menu,” Susan Frank of Boston Pizza International said in an interview from Vancouver on Sunday. She said customers were understanding during the four days Boston Pizza removed sliced tomatoes from sale. “From the majority, what we heard back from our stores is that customers were supportive and they were understanding because this was out in the media,” said Frank.
In a statement, Mississauga, Ont.-based Cara Operations said a supply of fresh tomatoes have been sourced from regions where tomatoes have been deemed safe. Cara Operations also provides food to Canadian airlines and railways and said tomatoes were also returned to those menus.
McDonald’s Corp. said Saturday the fast food chain’s U.S. restaurants will re-introduce sliced tomatoes in the next seven to 10 days while Burger King said last week it had begun receiving new shipments of the summer staple.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said since April, at least 228 illnesses in 23 states have been linked to the tainted tomatoes and may have been a factor in the death of a Texas cancer patient who had the same salmonella strain.
Canadian tomatoes have always been in the clear and no illnesses were reported in this country.
U.S. authorities still haven’t determined the source of the tainted tomatoes but have now ruled out New Mexico, Baja California and Indiana as the likely origin of the food poisoning.
Health Canada said it is estimated that there are as many as 13 million cases of food-related illnesses in Canada every year. The agency said since tomatoes are grown close to the ground, the fruit can become contaminated with salmonella in the field by soil, contaminated water, wild and domestic animals or improperly composted manure. It also said bacteria can be transferred during and after harvest from handling, storing and transporting. Health Canada said washing tomatoes under fresh, cool running water gently is as effective, if not more so, than using cleansers.

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