September 7, 2012, Ottawa: As part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency‘s (CFIA) routine testing of various food products, a study was released today that found 100% of tomato samples analyzed for Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli 0157:H7/NM and generic E.coli contained no contamination and were safe for human consumption. No follow-up activities were needed.
The CFIA analyzed 1,414 domestic and imported tomato samples (conventional and organic) collected from Canadian retail stores for Salmonella, Shigella and generic E.coli. More than 300 of the tomato samples (imported organic and conventional domestic) were also analyzed for E. coli 0157:H7 and E. coli 0157:NM.
Salmonella, Shigella and E. coli O157 are bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Raw fresh produce can occasionally become contaminated with these harmful bacteria at various stages of their production. The consumption of contaminated produce, including tomatoes, can cause foodborne illness in humans.
Generic E. coli are harmless bacteria found in human and animal intestines. Their presence and levels in fresh fruits and vegetables indicate whether good agricultural practices were followed and/or clean, sanitary conditions existed throughout the food production chain.
When pathogens such as Salmonella, Shigella and E. coli O157 are detected, Health Canada’s completes an assessment to determine if the pathogen poses a health risk, based on the contaminant’s level, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. These factors help determine whether further action is needed, up to and including product seizure and/or recall. If a human health risk is found, a public recall is issued immediately.
The CFIA has continued testing tomatoes for pathogens to ensure they remain safe for Canadian consumers.
Further information on this survey report is available on the CFIA website.