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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

145 Salmonella St. Paul Illnesses in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin caused by Roma, Plum and Round Tomatoes

FDA Warns Consumers Nationwide Not to Eat Certain Types of Raw Red Tomatoes

The Food and Drug Administration is expanding its warning to consumers nationwide that a salmonellosis outbreak has been linked to consumption of certain raw red plum, raw red Roma, and raw red round tomatoes, and products containing these tomatoes.  FDA recommends that consumers not eat raw red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes, or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes unless the tomatoes are from the sources listed below:

Arkansas, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico.

So, where did the tainted tomatoes turn-up?  Recent reports suggest Mexico as the source of the terrible tomatoes.

The CDC also weighed in a few moments ago.  According to the CDC, 16 states: Arizona (12 persons), California (1), Colorado (1), Connecticut (1), Idaho (2), Illinois (17), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), New Mexico (39), Oklahoma (3), Oregon (2), Texas (56 persons), Utah (1), Virginia (2), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3) have ill people. 

These were identified because clinical laboratories in all states send Salmonella strains from ill persons to their State public health laboratory for characterization.   Among the 73 persons who have been interviewed, illnesses began between April 16 and May 27, 2008.  Patients range in age from 1 to 82 years; 49% are female. At least 23 persons were hospitalized. 

So, we are having tacos (fish) for dinner tonight and we are thinking about using salsa.  So, I looked on the label and tried to figure out if this was part of the recall or not.  Damn, if I can not figure this out.  As I said in a press release yesterday:

"A Long History of Tomatoes and Salmonella"

“Salmonella and tomatoes have an ongoing relationship,” Marler said. “Sadly, it’s a long list of outbreaks. We’ve gotten better at tracing the serotypes and finding the source of the tainted food, but we have to do more: we have to prevent contaminated food from entering the food supply in the first place.”

In 1990, a reported 174 salmonella javiana illnesses were linked to raw tomatoes as part of a four-state outbreak. In 1993, 84 reported cases of salmonella montevideo were part of a three-state outbreak. In January 1999, salmonella baildon was recovered from 86 infected persons in eight states. In July 2002, an outbreak of salmonella javiana occurred associated with attendance at the 2002 U.S. Transplant Games held in Orlando, Florida during late June of that year. Ultimately, the outbreak investigation identified 141 ill persons in 32 states who attended the games. All were linked to consumption of raw tomatoes.

During August and September 2002, a salmonella newport outbreak affected the East Coast. Ultimately, over 404 confirmed cases were identified in over 22 states. Epidemiological analysis indicated that tomatoes were the most likely vehicle, and were traced back to the same tomato packing facility in the mid-Atlantic region.

In early July 2004, as many as 564 confirmed cases of salmonellosis associated with consumption of contaminated tomatoes purchased at Sheetz Convenience Store were reported in five states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. Seventy percent were associated with tomatoes in food prepared at Sheetz convenience stores. In 2006 two outbreaks of salmonella-tainted tomatoes where reported by the FDA. One was blamed for nearly 100 illnesses in 19 states. FDA also traced tomatoes involved in another outbreak involving 183 people in 21 states.