June 9th, 2008 14:30 EST
Salmonella-tainted tomatoes sicken 150 in U.S.
The salmonella outbreak form tainted tomatoes, first reported last week, is bigger than it appeared, with nearly 150 people sickened nationwide.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expanding its warning to consumers that a salmonellosis outbreak has been linked to consumption of certain raw red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes, and products containing these raw, red tomatoes.
FDA recommends that consumers not eat raw red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes, or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes unless the tomatoes are from the sources listed below.
If unsure of where tomatoes are grown or harvested, consumers are encouraged to contact the store where the tomato purchase was made. Consumers should continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, or tomatoes grown at home.
On June 5, FDA published a list of states, territories, and countries where tomatoes are grown and harvested which have not been associated with this outbreak.
This updated list includes: Arkansas, California, George, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands and Puerto Rico. Tomatoes from any of these areas are thought to be safe.
FDA`s recommendation does not apply to the following tomatoes from any source: cherry, grape and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached.
FDA recommends that retailers, restaurateurs, and food service operators not sell or serve raw red Roma, raw red plum, and raw red round tomatoes unless they are from the sources listed above. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, may continue to be offered from any source.
Since mid April, there have been 145 reported cases of salmonellosis caused by Salmonella Saintpaul nationwide, including at least 23 hospitalizations.
States reporting illnesses linked to the outbreak include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexice, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Salmonella Saintpaul is an uncommon type of Salmonella.
Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections particularly in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems.
Healthy persons often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, the organism can get into the bloodstream and produce more severe illnesses.
Consumers who have recently eaten raw tomatoes or foods containing raw tomatoes and are experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their health care provider. All Salmonella infections should be reported to state or local health authorities.
FDA says the source of the contaminated tomatoes may be limited to a single grower or packer or tomatoes from a specific geographic area. The agency also notes that there are many tomato crops across the country and in foreign countries that are just becoming ready for harvest or will become ready in the coming months.
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