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Tainted Tomatoes Likely From Florida or Mexico: FDA
Date:6/13/2008

Officials say salmonella contamination probably came from one source

FRIDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- The bulk of the tomatoes available in the United States at the time of the recent -- and ongoing -- salmonella outbreak came from Florida and Mexico, U.S. health officials said Friday.

"The vast majority of tomatoes in national distribution at that time were being produced in one of those two places," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for food protection at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said during an afternoon teleconference.

The northern part of Florida has been excluded from the list of possible origins of the outbreak, although central and southern Florida are still a question mark, Acheson added.

Officials also believe it very likely that the contamination arose from one source.

"One thing you learn in science is never to say never. But, based on probabilities, it's extremely likely that the same genetic fingerprint would have come from the same place at the same time," Acheson said. "All of the precedent indicates that this comes from a single geographic region."

U.S. inspectors are currently visiting distributors, suppliers and importers to get pertinent records. They have not yet been sent to any farms because no specific farms have yet been implicated; officials don't yet know whether this is a packing-place problem or a farm problem, Acheson said.

Nor do officials know when they'll have an answer. "We won't know for sure until we get there," Acheson said. "I am confident that we will get to the point where we will definitely be able to say a geographic region. I'm not certain but confident that we will be able to get that far... [But] you can be almost there and something falls apart and then you have to start over. That's happened a number of times."

The number of people sickened in the outbreak remains 228 in 23 states, with at least 25
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