As this issue went to the printer, federal officials were still trying to find the source of a 17-state salmonella outbreak linked to three types of raw tomatoes. The list of supermarkets and restaurants pulling those varieties from shelves and menus continued to grow. McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Kroger, Outback Steakhouse, Winn-Dixie and Taco Bell were among the companies that voluntarily withdrew red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes unless they were grown in certain states and countries.
The FDA is investigating the source of the outbreak. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and homegrown tomatoes are likely not the source of the outbreak, according to federal officials. Also not associated with the outbreak are raw red Roma, red plum and round red tomatoes from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands and Puerto Rico. According to Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, tomatoes grown in Alabama are safe for consumption.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified since mid-April 167 people infected with salmonella with the same “genetic fingerprint.” A number of people have been hospitalized. It appears that the death of one person has been linked the salmonella strain as a contributing factor. The cancer patient, whose death was officially attributed to his cancer, had been hospitalized after eating pico de gallo, a tomato-based condiment, in late May while celebrating good news about his cancer treatment.
Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. The bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Most infected people suffer fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps starting 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness tends to last four to seven days. The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers in New Mexico and Texas as early as June 3 about the outbreak. The agency expanded its warning during the weekend and chains began voluntarily removing many red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes from their shelves in response. The salmonella causing the outbreak is a very unusual type called salmonella saintpaul, according to the FDA.
Source: Associated Press
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