The New Mexico Department of Health has announced that an outbreak of salmonella has been linked to uncooked tomatoes. The department announced that 31 people from seven New Mexico counties have contracted a strain of salmonella known as salmonella St. Paul.  I had blogged about this outbreak earlier – Salmonella St. Paul sickens 21 in New Mexico, 14 in Texas and they are still counting in Colorado, Utah and Arizona.

I have done a few thousand salmonella cases over the years, with several of them being tied to contaminated tomatoes.  I also posted a few months ago that on the same day it was announced that I settled the last of the salmonella suits against Sheetz, the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minnesota reported that Quizno’s salmonella outbreak came from tomatoes.  Tomatoes and Salmonella have been around a long, long time.

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.   One was blamed for nearly 100 illnesses in 19 states.  FDA also traced tomatoes involved in another outbreak involving 183 people in 21 states.