(June 9, 10:06 a.m.) The Food and Drug Administration has expanded its advisory nationwide, warning consumers not to eat roma, plum or red round tomatoes unless the products are sourced from areas that have been approved by the agency.
Tomatoes have been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Saint Paul that has resulted in 145 reported illnesses with the same genetic fingerprint in 16 states. The FDA’s consumer advisory had been limited to Texas and New Mexico until June 7.
The FDA has cleared tomatoes from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in its traceback investigation. Imported tomatoes from Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, The Netherlands and Puerto Rico also have been cleared.
Of the 73 victims interviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illnesses occurred from April 16 to May 27.
Two significant sources in production at that time that have not been cleared by the federal agencies are Florida and Mexico.
New Mexico Department of Health officials have said that its investigators are looking closely at product from Mexico.
The FDA is recommending that retailers, restaurants and foodservice operators not sell raw roma, plum or round red tomatoes unless they are sourced from the areas the agency has approved.
However, some restaurants have pulled tomatoes from their menus. The Los Angeles Times reported June 9 that Taco Bell and Chipotle have stopped offering tomatoes. The newspaper also said Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons had stopped offering the roma, red plum and round red tomatoes.
The FDA has said that cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and tomatoes on the vine are not implicated in the investigation.
The CDC said at least 23 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The states with the most reported illnesses:
- Texas (56),
- New Mexico (39),
- Illinois (17) and
- Arizona (12).
Other states affected are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The CDC said it is likely that “many more illnesses” have occurred that have not been reported and that more states could be involved.