The Indian Institute of Science [IISc], Bengaluru has warned that it is best to eat tomatoes after cooking them in order to destroy the Salmonella typhimurium present in them. This comes as a shock to the general public who has all along been eating tomatoes believing it to be good for one’s health. We have been told for long that eating salads with raw fruits and vegetables is nutritious. Now this news of raw tomatoes and the dangers of their consumption!
We are being told that thorough washing of tomatoes cannot get rid of the Salmonella typhimurium bacteria which lead to gastroenteritis. The researchers have found proof of the bacteria entering the plants through tiny openings on the main root for the lateral roots to emerge. Open defecation and contaminated irrigation water are the main causes for the presence of the Salmonella bacteria in the soil.
Studies are underway to see if other vegetables commonly eaten raw are also infected in a similar way. According to a scientist at IISc, it is best to avoid eating raw vegetables in the present scenario. Cooking kills the bacteria and so it is recommended that vegetables like tomatoes be cooked before eating.
Earlier studies had shown that bacteria colonise and enter the roots through lateral root areas but the exact mechanism had not been clear. Researchers have observed high colonization of S. typhimurium in the lateral root area when compared to other regions of the main root. It was also observed that as salinity increases the lateral root formation also increases. As the lateral roots increased in number, the percentage of fruits infected with Salmonella typhimurium also increased. Tomatoes grown in saline soil were more prone to be infected with the bacteria. So, salinity was a stressor that made the plant more susceptible to salmonella infection.
All this information should warn everyone to stop eating raw tomatoes. Stop putting them raw into sandwiches and salads. Do not take raw tomato juice believing its best for health. Cook your vegetables and stay healthy, keep Salmonella at bay.