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Consumers Urged to Avoid Certain Tomatoes Amid Salmonella Scare
Date:6/10/2008

Restaurants, markets stop offering some products after 163 sickened in 17 states, CDC reports

TUESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- To avoid the current outbreak of salmonella in tomatoes, consumers will need to employ a little detective work and forgo certain types of tomatoes for a while.

"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.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 167 persons have been infected with Salmonella saintpaul, an unusual and virulent form of salmonella, since mid-April. Infections have occurred in 17 states and at least 23 people have been hospitalized.

The Associated Press reported that one man died, apparently after eating pico de gallo, a tomato-based condiment, at a Texas restaurant in May. The 67-year-old man also suffered from cancer, however, and the death has been officially attributed to that disease, the news service reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has alerted consumers that the outbreak of salmonella contamination seems to be linked with certain types of raw red tomatoes and products containing these tomatoes. In particular, the agency said, raw red plum tomatoes, raw red Roma tomatoes and raw round red tomatoes should be avoided at this time.

Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, home-grown tomatoes and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached appear to be safe. But all tomatoes should be washed before eating, officials advised.

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