Salmonella Tomato Update: Farms Probed
FDA Sending Investigators to Farms and Distribution Chains in Florida and Mexico
June 20, 2008 -- Reports keep coming in of people sickened by the salmonella tomato outbreak, and the FDA is getting closer to identifying the outbreak's source.
Here's the latest news:
FDA heading to farms in Florida and Mexico. FDA investigators will go to several farms in Florida and Mexico this weekend. FDA officials won't say how many farms they're going to.
The farms aren't the only place those FDA teams will go. They are not certain that the outbreak started on a farm, so the FDA will probe the entire distribution chain, from the plant to the plate.
The outbreak probably stems from one source, not multiple sources, notes David Acheson, MD, the FDA's associate commissioner for foods. It's "extremely unlikely" that such a rare strain of salmonella occurred at two points at the same time, says Acheson.
Reported cases rise. The CDC has gotten reports of 552 people in 32 states and Washington, D.C. with Salmonella Saintpaul, the outbreak strain. That's up from 383 cases on June 18.
The rise in reported cases isn't mainly due to new cases, but to increased attention and completed lab work on samples already submitted, according to the CDC's Ian Williams, PhD.
The FDA's advice to consumers hasn't changed. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold on the vine, and homegrown tomatoes are still fine to eat.
As for red Roma, red plum, and red round tomatoes, the FDA continues to add to its list of areas not linked to the outbreak.
Some people have been confused by the fact that some people in "safe" areas came down with salmonella. That may be because they ate tomatoes that weren't grown in their area but were shipped in from another area that's not yet in the clear, Acheson explains.
Here is the list of areas not linked to the outbreak and safe to eat, as of June 20:
- Florida (counties of: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Charlotte)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- Dominican Republic
- Mexican states of Aguascalientes, Baja California Norte, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Colima, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Distrito Federal, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, México, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tobasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán, Zacatecas
- Puerto Rico