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article imageNew Mexico Department of Health Says Tainted Tomatoes Likely from Mexico

By Bob Ewing     Jun 10, 2008 in Food
A preliminary inquiry into salmonella illnesses in the state shows patients bought tomatoes from stores supplied by growers south of the U.S. border.
A preliminary inquiry into the infection of more than 167 Americans with a rare strain of salmonella that is being conducted by the New Mexico Department of Health has stated that the tomatoes in question most likely came from Mexico.
"(Salmonella) patients in New Mexico bought tomatoes that came from Mexico," she said . "We saw a link between certain stores (and the people getting sick)."
There have been confirmed cases of the "Saintpaul" bacteria, in New Mexico, more than most of the other 15 states where the strain has surfaced. Many more patients have fallen ill, although lab tests to confirm presence of salmonella are still pending.
The first reported cases began in mid-April, since then,New Mexico has seen "an increase of cases almost every day," Busemeyer said, adding most of the state's tomatoes come from Mexico at this time of year.
Last weekend the FDA issued a warning that consumers should avoid Roma, plum and red round tomatoes until the source of the outbreak is confirmed. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency quickly followed suit.
However, as of Tuesday, no Saintpaul-related illness had been discovered in Canada.
The FDA says that it is safe to eat tomatoes from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands and Puerto Rico.
The FDA has not released details of its own investigation into the tomatoes and has not verified the results of New Mexico's preliminary inquiry.
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