And, until a source for the outbreak is identified, consumers need to employ a little detective work before consuming tomatoes or tomato products.
"The best advice right now is to be extremely careful in trying to find out exactly where the tomatoes they're purchasing are from," said Tony Corbo, legislative representative for Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit consumer group that works to ensure clean water and safe food.
"The other problem with tomatoes is that they have shown up in restaurants and in salsa. So, maybe for the time being, consumers should stay away from anything that is processed," Corbo said.
On Tuesday, FDA officials also recommended that retailers, restaurants and other food service operators not offer raw, red Roma, raw, red plum, and raw, red round tomatoes unless they are from sources that have not been associated with the outbreak. If unsure of where tomatoes were grown or harvested, consumers are encouraged to contact the store where the tomato purchase was made, the agency said.
Several large fast food, restaurant and grocery chains, including McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Kroger and Outback Steakhouse, have voluntarily withdrawn red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes not grown in certain states and countries. Also, the Los Angeles Unified School District has suspended serving raw tomatoes, the AP said.
The FDA recommends consuming raw, red plum, raw, red Roma or raw, red round tomatoes only if grown and harvested from these areas: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Belgium, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, the Netherlands and Puerto Rico.
States reporting illnesses linked to the outbreak incl
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