Make us your home page
Instagram

Tomato season winds down with a whimper

These green tomatoes were just in from the field at Taylor & Fulton Packing in Palmetto on June 11. Many farmers had to watch helplessly as tomatoes ripened in idle packing factories amid a recent nationwide salmonella scare.

SKIP O\u2019ROURKE | Times\uFEFF

These green tomatoes were just in from the field at Taylor & Fulton Packing in Palmetto on June 11. Many farmers had to watch helplessly as tomatoes ripened in idle packing factories amid a recent nationwide salmonella scare.

Local tomato producers are wrapping up a season destroyed by a nationwide salmonella outbreak that prompted grocery stores and restaurants to pull tomatoes from their shelves and menus.

As the "safe to eat" list of tomatoes grew last week to include parts of Central and North Florida, retailers restocked tomatoes. But producers say the economic impact in Florida still could exceed $500-million in lost product, lost sales and lost future business.

Brian Turner of Taylor & Fulton Packing in Palmetto says it will take years to make up the millions they lost. Crop insurance won't cover the losses because it only kicks in when there are natural disasters.

The Food and Drug Administration announced June 7 that raw red Roma, red plum and red round tomatoes were linked to a salmonella outbreak that to date has made more than 275 people in 28 states sick.

Tomatoes from Ruskin, Palmetto and Quincy were declared safe three days later — good news for consumers but too late for farmers, whose tomatoes ripened in idle packing factories over the weekend.

More than a dozen members of Congress from Florida sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach asking that his agency do a better job of telling consumers that Florida tomatoes are safe.

The letter notes that Florida is the nation's largest tomato producer.

The crop is worth $500-mil lion to $700-million.

Not all tomatoes in Florida have been cleared.

The FDA said on June 13 that the timing of the illnesses is leading them to believe that the tomatoes carrying the salmonella came from Mexico or parts of South Florida that are no longer shipping tomatoes.

Times writer Wes Allison contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Tomato season winds down with a whimper 06/19/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  4. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  5. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]