Scientists have grown genetically-engineered purple tomatoes in an unusual endeavour to promote healthy food.

The tomatoes include two genes taken from the snapdragon flower (Antirrhinum majus) to enable them to express a compound called anthocyanin, the purple pigment found in high levels in fruit such as blackberries and cranberries.

Previous research has found that anthocyanins offer protection against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and degenerative diseases, and may also hinder inflammation, obesity and diabetes.

The study is published online on Sunday by Nature Biotechnology, a journal of the London-based Nature Publishing Group.

Researcher Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre, a biotechnology institute in Norwich, eastern England, said the point behind the purple toms was to boost the healthiness of diets. Read the rest of this entry »

Florida tomato growers want compensation from the federal government for millions of dollars lost because of an investigation that originally focused on raw tomatoes after a salmonella outbreak in parts of the country this spring. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson travels to Washington next week to seek changes in the process so an entire industry is not unnecessarily tainted.

“Public health and safety is of course, the top priority, but we also have to look out for growers who are losing tens of millions of dollars unnecessarily,” said Liz Compton, spokeswoman for Bronson’s office. “We’re going to have food-borne illnesses in the future, but that doesn’t mean an entire industry should have to suffer.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected Florida tomatoes in June and found no problems, but the investigation virtually killed the market for fresh tomatoes.

For now, the FDA is warning people not to eat raw jalapeno peppers after one pepper at a Texas food distribution center tested positive for the strain of salmonella linked to the outbreak.

State Department of Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin is ready to take on the federal government over jalapeño peppers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Food and Drug Administration has expanded a salmonella investigation focused on raw tomatoes to other fresh produce commonly consumed with tomatoes.

David Acheson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for foods, declined today to specify what new products the agency is looking at, and added that tomatoes remain the top suspect. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s going on with tomatoes? Reports from the FDA and CDC (to date) indicate:

  • 167  228 552 613 756 869 922 1017 1090 1148 confirmed cases of Salmonella Saintpaul poisoning from contaminated raw tomatoes
  • At least 23 25 48 53 69 95 107 111 203 210 220 hospitalizations have been reported.
  • 2 deaths are believed to be associated with the outbreak.
  • 17 23  28 30 34 36 40 41 42 states involved. Texas has the largest number of cases with 131 384 people affected while Ilinois had 34 100, followed by New mexico New Mexico at 70  98.
  • Illnesses began between April 16 and May 27.
  • Patients range in age from 1 to 82 years; 49% are female
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that for every salmonella case reported, 38 are not brought to the attention of physicians. Read the rest of this entry »

An outbreak of salmonella food poisoning first linked to uncooked tomatoes has now been reported in nine states, U.S. health officials announced on Tuesday. Lab tests have confirmed at least 40 illnesses in Texas and New Mexico as the same type of salmonella. At least 17 have been reported hospitalized. Read the rest of this entry »