With the States and Feds forcing the use of salmonella contaminated sewage effluent and sludge (reclaimed water and
biosolids) on farmers, No one wants to find the source of the contaminated tomatoes.
Tomatoes Pulled Over Salmonella Fears
By CARLA K. JOHNSON,AP
Posted: 2008-06-10 06:47:10
Source: Filed Under: Recalls, Health News
CHICAGO (June 10) - Federal officials hunted for the source of a 16-state salmonella outbreak linked to three types of
raw tomatoes, while the list of supermarkets and restaurants yanking those varieties from shelves and dishes grew.
McDonald's , Wal-Mart , Burger King, Kroger , Outback Steakhouse, Winn-Dixie and Taco Bell were among the
companies that voluntarily withdrew red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes unless they were grown in certain states
In addition, officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District - the nation's second largest - said Monday they have
"indefinitely suspended" serving uncooked tomatoes.
The FDA is investigating the source of the outbreak, agency spokeswoman Kimberly Rawlings said. "We are working
hard and fast on this one and hope to have something as quickly as possible," Rawlings said Monday.
Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and homegrown tomatoes are likely not the
source of the outbreak, federal officials said.
Also not associated with the outbreak are raw red Roma, red plum and round red tomatoes from Arkansas, California,
Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic,
Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands and Puerto Rico.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that since mid-April, 145 people infected with salmonella with
the same "genetic fingerprint" have been identified. At least 23 people have been hospitalized.
A 67-year-old cancer patient in Texas who health officials said was sickened by salmonella at a Mexican restaurant is
believed to be the first death associated with the outbreak.
The death of Raul Rivera last week has been officially attributed to his cancer, but Houston health department
spokeswoman Kathy Barton told the Houston Chronicle in Tuesday's editions that the salmonella strain was a
Rivera's wife said he was hospitalized after eating pico de gallo, a tomato-based condiment, in late May while
celebrating good news about his cancer treatment.
Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. The bacteria are usually
transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.
Most infected people suffer fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps starting 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness
tends to last four to seven days.
The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers in New Mexico and Texas as early as June 3 about the outbreak.
The agency expanded its warning during the weekend and chains began voluntarily removing many red plum, red Roma
or round red tomatoes from their shelves in response.
The salmonella causing the outbreak is a very unusual type called salmonella saintpaul, said FDA Commissioner
Andrew C. von Eschenbach, who added it was not more virulent than other types of salmonella.
McDonald's, the world's largest hamburger chain, stopped serving sliced tomatoes on its sandwiches as a precaution,
but will continue serving grape tomatoes in its salads because no problems have been linked to that variety.
The decision didn't upset Connie Semaitis, a 49-year-old travel agent in downtown Chicago, who bought a
cheeseburger and a drink at a McDonald's during lunch hour Monday.
"I'd rather be safe than sorry," Semaitis said.
Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners LLC, which owns and operates eight brands including Outback Steakhouse,
Carrabba's and Bonefish Grill, said it stopped serving all raw tomatoes other than grape tomatoes on Saturday evening.
The company also instructed restaurants to discard salsa and other prepared foods containing raw tomatoes.
Burger King Corp. said it had withdrawn raw round red tomatoes from most of its U.S. restaurants, as well as locations in
Canada and Puerto Rico and some other Caribbean islands. Some California restaurants continued using the tomatoes
because they buy from growers in states the FDA has said are not involved in the outbreak, Burger King said.
Other restaurant operators that stopped serving most tomatoes: Yum Brands Inc., which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Long
John Silver's and A&W All-American Food Restaurants; Darden Restaurants , which owns and operates six brands
including Red Lobster and Olive Garden; Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.; and Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., which
operates Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants in 15 states.
Among retailers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - the largest grocery seller in the U.S. - is working with federal officials to ensure
affected tomatoes are pulled from Wal-Marts, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Club warehouse stores nationwide,
spokeswoman Deisha Galberth said.
Galberth said the company is modifying orders to its stores and putting an electronic block at its registers as an added
safety measure to keep the recalled tomatoes from being purchased.
Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., the nation's largest traditional grocery chain, said it pulled the three types of tomatoes
from all its stores in 31 states on Sunday per the FDA advisory. The company had early last week pulled the tomatoes
from stores in Texas and New Mexico.
Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., which operates 521 stores in five southern states, also stopped selling tomatoes involved in the
FDA warning, as did Publix Super Markets Inc. Publix offered refunds to customers who bought the tomatoes before
they were removed from shelves.
Trader Joe's, with more than 280 grocery stores in 23 states, also stopped selling the tomatoes in question and offered
refunds, according to a statement from spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki.
Giant Eagle, which has 223 supermarkets in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland, said it also
removed the tomatoes from store shelves; as did SuperValu Inc., which operates Jewel, Shaw's, Cub Foods, Acme and
some Albertson's stores.