(Jan. 18) A letter from Burger King warning that it may not buy tomatoes from Immokalee, Fla., — an area where a workers’ union has demanded fast-food companies to pay a penny a pound more for tomatoes — has stirred uneasiness among Florida growers.

Miami-based Burger King Corp. denies the Dec. 18 letter was linked the workers’ wage issue.

The letter, sent to tomato suppliers, requests they develop and submit to the fast-food chain “contingency plans for the possibility that we would choose not to purchase tomatoes grown on farms in the Immokalee, Florida, region.”

The Dec. 18 letter, signed by Steven Grover, Burger King’s vice president of food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance, tells buyers the request is to prevent supply disruptions and that packers should develop plans for a phased implementation of the plan starting with next year’s winter growing season.

A Jan. 16 Associated Press article linked the letter to demands for higher worker wages by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a labor group that has lobbied Burger King and other fast food operators to pay workers an additional penny a pound for the tomatoes they pick.

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