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Now that swine flu is part of everybody's vocabulary, shoppers are starting to take a closer look at product labels, especially their COOL (Country Of Origin Label) stickers.
"Phyllis" of Lakeland, TN, says she's noticed in most Mid-South grocery stores, the tomatoes have labels indicating they're imported from Mexico:
"I am wondering if any of the produce or food that is brought from Mexico might be contaminated and/or might possibly cause this flu."
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (www.cdc.gov) tells us swine flu is NOT a food-borne illness. It's spread by human-to-human contact -- touching, sneezing, coughing. It can't be ingested from pork, either imported or raised in the U.S. As long as pork is properly cooked to at least 160 degrees, that should kill anything harmful, whatever it may be.
The only way the virus could survive on produce in a grocery store is if the produce were touched IN THE STORE by someone who was infected with it. The virus cannot survive on food imported from Mexico.
"There is no evidence that the virus could survive on a tomato for the travel from Mexico to American grocery stores," says Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, one of the leading infectious disease doctors in the Mid-South. "I'd be more concerned about the shopper who touched the tomato before you and what illnesses he or she is carrying. You should wash all your produce any way."
Wash your produce. Wash your hands. Follow the CDCs' guidelines as posted here: