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So...Maybe It Wasn't the Tomatoes?

So...Maybe It Wasn't the Tomatoes?

Just when food safety experts thought they could place all the blame on red tomatoes for a salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 800 people, the plot thickened—the tasty little fruit might not be the prime suspect.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced yesterday that the culprit may not be tainted tomatoes after all. That’s not to say that tomatoes are in the clear, since officials can't rule it out completely.

The investigation into the source of the outbreak continues after health officials announced last month that several people had been suffering from a salmonella-related illness. The tomato warning began in Texas and Mexico, but quickly spread to more than fifteen states across the country. Since the initial warning, health experts traveled to farms in Mexico and Florida, but have yet to figure out the exact cause of the strain. Several more recent outbreaks of illness among people who dined at restaurants in Texas—sans infected tomatoes—have led food investigators to refocus their energy, and hone in on what food items are commonly consumed with tomatoes.

All this time spent investigating, however, is angering farmers who are losing millions of dollars as a result of the anti-tomato crusade, leading them to seek congressional examination of the ordeal.

Food experts are still asking consumers to stick to tomatoes judged as safe, including cherry and grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold on the vine.

We're curious what your theories are. Where do you think this salmonella outbreak is coming from? [ABC News]

Posted: 7/2/08