On the same day it was announce that I settled the last of the Salmonella suits against Sheetz, the Post-Bulletin of Rochester reported that “Quizno’s outbreak came from outside source.” The common denominator was Tomatoes.

A foodborne illness outbreak at Quizno’s Subs, 3499 22nd Ave. N.W. in Rochester, wasn’t the restaurant’s fault. Larry Edmonson, an epidemiologist with Olmsted County Public Health, said studies showed that tomatoes delivered to the store were contaminated before they even got to the restaurant. Salmonella made more than 20 Quizno’s customers and employees sick in October. The store closed for one day, hired a cleaning company to sterilze equipment and reopened.

In 1990, a reported 174 Salmonella javiana illnesses, as part of a four state outbreak, were linked to raw tomatoes. In 1993, 84 reported cases of Salmonella Montevideo were part of a three state outbreak that was linked to raw tomatoes. 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.

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. According to Ms. Murphy, the Food & Drug Administration is now investigating two tomato-related outbreaks, with the latest blamed for nearly 100 illnesses in 19 states. FDA was already tracing tomatoes involved in another outbreak involving 183 people in 21 states. Federal authorities said that fresh tomatoes contaminated with Salmonella typhimurium served in restaurants were the likely cause of that outbreak.