(July 1, 10:07 a.m.) As people continued to get sick in a Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was broadening its investigation to include “food items that are commonly consumed with tomatoes.”

CDC initially linked the multistate outbreak to fresh roma and red round tomatoes June 2, and that agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised consumers in Texas and New Mexico not to eat those varieties. That advisory was amended June 7, warning consumers nationwide not to eat roma or red round tomatoes unless they were sourced from areas approved by FDA.

Many restaurants and retailers responded by pulling the implicated varieties.

During a June 27 media briefing, FDA associate commissioner for foods David Acheson said 1,700 samples, mostly of tomatoes, had tested negative for Salmonella Saintpaul. Investigators in Florida, Mexico and other areas also are taking water and environmental samples from farms, packing sheds, repacking operations and distribution centers.

Patricia Griffin, chief of the CDC’s enteric diseases epidemiology branch, said June 27 that the source of the outbreak might still be putting contaminated product into the supply chain. She also acknowledged though there is a “strong association to consumption of tomatoes,” she was keeping an open mind about source of outbreak.

CDC worded that possibility more forcefully in an update on its Web site June 30. The agency said clusters of ill people who ate at restaurants in Texas and other states have led investigators to look at other food items.

Still making people sick

The agency did not specify what those items are in its release, just as Griffin had declined to say what other food products might be under investigation during the June 27 media briefing.

CDC said June 30 that there are 851 reported illnesses in 36 states and Washington, D.C. At least 105 people have been hospitalized. Onset of reported illness dates range from April 10 to June 20.

“We’re still getting reports of people becoming ill,” Griffin said June 25. “Whatever this produce item is, it’s possibly still out there making people sick.”

Salmonella investigation expands beyond tomatoes