As the number of cases in an ongoing salmonella outbreak climbed past 800
today, federal health officials said that they might never find the cause -- and
that tomatoes might not be the culprit after all.
Though fresh tomatoes have a "strong association" with many of the cases
and remain a top suspect, health officials have not confirmed that the fruit
carried the rare Salmonella Saintpaul strain.
Of 1,700 domestic and international tomato samples collected so far, none
has tested positive, said David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods with
the Food and Drug Administration.
Officials would not divulge if, or what, other produce was being seriously
investigated, only saying that they would "continue to keep an open mind about
the possible source."
The most recent reported onset of illness was June 15, and for each
reported case there are likely more that have gone undetected, said Dr. Patricia
Griffin, chief of the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
"Whatever this produce item is . . . it's possibly still out there making
people sick," Griffin said.
The FDA has cleared 41 states, including California, and several Mexican
states and parts of Florida as the growing regions that produced the possibly
tainted tomatoes. But Acheson said the agency was still tracing distribution
chains through areas included on the list.
"The longer this goes on, the less likely it's all originating from a
single farm source," he said.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Tomatoes May Not Be The Cause Of The Salmonella Outbreak
If not tomatoes, then what?