“Everyone needs to figure out that this salmonella deal has come and gone,” he said. “People need to get informed there’s a good supply of clean and certified-safe tomatoes now, and they will be here for the rest of the summer. It’s time to start eating tomatoes again.”
Andrew Moste, sales manager of Nickey Gregory Co. Inc., Forest Park, Ga., which distributes produce to retailers and foodservice purveyors from Atlanta to Miami and all over the Southeast, said he has noticed a lot of confusion in the marketplace.
“I was talking with someone in Birmingham (Ala.) about the Chick-fil-A restaurant,” he said in late June. “We all have to have letters where the product is from, with federal inspections on it. They pull it one day, then not pull it the next day. People bring product in, then say they’re not able to sell it, then sell it again. It’s crazy. People don’t know if they should have or don’t have tomatoes.”
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Maitland, is working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to get the issue resolved, said Lisa Lochridge, FFVA’s director of public affairs.
“It has been tough on the industry, waiting for the FDA to do its traceback,” Lochridge said. “We feel they are doing the job they have to do, but every day that went by before the FDA put those 19 Florida counties on the cleared list really cost the industry dearly.”
The FDA cleared central and northern Florida production counties on June 11.