According to the CDC, since mid-April, 167 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 17 states: Arizona (12 persons), California (2), Colorado (1), Connecticut (1), Idaho (2), Illinois (27), Indiana (7), Kansas (5), Michigan (2), New Mexico (39), Oklahoma (3), Oregon (3), Texas (56), Utah (1), Virginia (2), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). 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.
I spoke with Mike Stobbe for his article: “Why did food sellers treat tomatoes like hot potatoes?”
It’s an expensive proposition to toss seemingly edible food, experts said. But McDonald’s and others had good reason to pull the tomatoes, said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who for 15 years has specialized in food-contamination cases.
"The dilemma is if they don’t recall the tomatoes and someone gets sick, then they’re going to really look foolish," he said.
Recent news continues to point to Mexico as the likely source of the tainted-tomatoes. Everyone is waiting for the FDA announcement. I did make a passing mention on my hero, Perishable Pundit’s. blog where he was discussing why tomatoes are being removed from shelves, even though the risk is likely long past:
“The problem now is that the buyers and even the food safety people at these buying organizations lose control once FDA issues a statement. Then it puts things into legal parlance, and all the lawyers can think about is Bill Marler, plaintiff’s food safety lawyer par excellence, stroking his chin thoughtfully as he questions the CEO of one of these big chains while on the witness stand: “So, sir, you elected to buy tomatoes from Mexico even though you knew that the FDA, the official food safety expert of the federal government of these United States, had specifically advised you not to do so?”