It started in April and since then 1017 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (2 persons), Arkansas (14), Arizona (49), California (9), Colorado (13), Connecticut (4), Florida (2), Georgia (24), Idaho (4), Illinois (100), Indiana (14), Iowa (2), Kansas (17), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Maryland (29), Massachusetts (25), Michigan (8), Minnesota (15), Missouri (12), New Hampshire (4), Nevada (11), New Jersey (9), New Mexico (98), New York (28), North Carolina (10), Ohio (8), Oklahoma (24), Oregon (10), Pennsylvania (11), Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (8), Texas (384), Utah (2), Virginia (29), Vermont (2), Washington (11), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (11), and the District of Columbia (1). Four ill persons are reported from Canada; three appear to have been infected while traveling in the United States. At least 203 people have been hospitalized, 2 people have died. The outbreak isn’t over, or even showing any sign of slowing — with about 25 to 40 cases being a reported a day for weeks now.

The toll far surpasses what had been considered the largest foodborne outbreak of the past decade, the 715 salmonella cases linked to peanut butter in 2006. In the mid-1990s, there were well over 1,000 cases of cyclospora linked to raspberries, and previous large outbreaks of salmonella from ice cream and milk.

The CDC acknowledges that for every case of salmonella confirmed to the government, there may be 30 to 40 others that go undiagnosed or unreported. Read the rest of this entry »

FDA tomato cluster F—

June 18, 2008

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that a localized cluster of nine cases has emerged in the nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes, but in a conference call with news reporters today, David Acheson, the FDA’s associate commissioner of foods, declined to name the geographic region or where the people consumed the tainted tomatoes.

Based on interviews with 202 people, illness onset dates ranged from April 10 (over two months ago) to June 5. At least 43 people were hospitalized, according to an update today from the CDC. Though no deaths have officially been linked to the outbreak, a Texas man in his sixties who died of cancer was infected with the outbreak strain, which may have contributed to his death, the CDC has said.

Acheson said the identification of the case cluster is helpful because it allows investigators to better trace the source of the tomatoes, from foodservice facilities to distributors and possibly to the farm. “The weakest link is individual patient recall,” he said. “But with a cluster you have invoices and other records to look at.”

FDA officials said they were prohibited from naming the region and where the people who were part of the cluster may have eaten. However,Tim Hadac, a spokesman with the Chicago Department of Public Health, said nine people got sick with Salmonella infections after eating at a Chicago restaurant in mid May, according to a Jun 13 Bloomberg News report. Hadac told Bloomberg that the restaurant has multiple locations around Chicago but isn’t part of a national chain. It’s unclear if the cluster the FDA identified is the same as the Chicago one.

Ian Williams, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) OutbreakNet team, told reporters that the agency still considers the outbreak ongoing. Read the rest of this entry »

Many types of food can legally be irradiated and sold in the U.S., including beef, poultry, pork, eggs, shellfish, juice and  spices. Yet beef is the only labeled irradiated food currently known to be sold in U.S. grocery stores today, and this in only a few states.

“As stores and restaurants around the country pull tomatoes from shelves and menus in response to the recent salmonella outbreak, American tomato farmers are poised to lose their livelihoods and the food irradiation industry sees dollar signs. So says Wenonah Hauter, Executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the new book Zapped! Irradiation and the Death of Food.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fast food giant McDonald’s has stopped putting sliced tomatoes in its burgers in the US because of the tomato salmonella scare.

Other restaurant and food chains in America, including Wal-Mart supermarkets, and Burger King, have also temporarily withdrawn certain tomatoes.

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned that the outbreak was linked to eating certain raw red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes, and products containing these tomatoes.

The US salmonella outbreak has prompted McDonald’s restaurants across Canada to stop serving tomatoes temporarily. A notice posted at McDonald’s in Dartmouth and other parts of Nova Scotia on Saturday told customers that tomatoes are no longer on the menu for the time being but gave no reason.

A spokesman for McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada was not available Saturday, but the restaurant chain issued a statement saying it has temporarily removed tomatoes as a precautionary measure due to the situation in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

See also: US tomato outbreak, the facts

The Food and Drug Administration is expanding its warning to consumers nationwide 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. The FDA says consumers can continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, or tomatoes grown at home (we say if we don’t know where they came from, we’re not eating them).

On June 5 (after dozens of people had already become ill), 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, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico. The list is available at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html#retailers.

FDA recommends that retailers, restaurateurs, and food service operators not offer for sale and service raw red Roma, raw red plum, and raw red round tomatoes unless they are from the sources listed above. Read the rest of this entry »