Friday, June 27, 2008

Tomato Illnesses Climb: 810 Lab-Confirmed Cases

CDC has reported another jump in the number of lab-confirmed illnesses caused by Salmonella Saintpaul. There are now 810 lab-confirmed cases in 36 states and the District of Columbia. In case anyone is keeping score, 75% of the 48 contiguous US states have now been hit by this outbreak.

Of greatest significance in this report is that the most recent victim became ill on June 15th. Contrary to previous statements by CDC, not all of the increased number of reported cases is due simply to clearing of lab backlogs. Some truly are new cases.

An Associated Press article
, published today, implied that CDC and FDA are starting to have doubts as to the source of the Salmonella Saintpaul that has sickened so many people. FDA has completed testing on 1,700 samples so far, and has yet to find a single Salmonella Saintpaul in any of them.

Dr. Acheson of FDA now says that it is unlikely the source is a single farm. It might be a warehouse or packing house, instead. If so, this outbreak could be with us for a long time to come.

I'll repeat once more what I've been saying all along. The only "safe" tomatoes are grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and tomatoes still attached to the vine. These varieties are likely to have gone through different handling procedures than those undergone by large tomatoes packed in bulk.

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