Federal, state and local health authorities continue to investigate a multi-stage outbreak of Saintpaul strain of the salmonella bacteria in tomatoes. Within the past few days, nine new cases of salmonella have been reported throughout Texas, bringing the total to 65 since Mid-April.
Assistant Press Officer for the Texas Department of State Health Services Emily Palmer says pinpointing the exact origin of this outbreak is such a long process. She says part of the investigation involves contacting people who are sick, then finding out where they got the food. Based on those reports, food and drug safety administrators will then go to the sites of where the product was reportedly purchased, such as grocery stores. This chain of purchase is followed until a direct source can be pinpointed.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising that consumers in New Mexico and Texas limit their raw tomato consumption to just cherry and grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, and tomatoes grown at home. Consumers should avoid eating raw roma and large round tomatoes. Raw tomatoes are often used in the preparation of fresh salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo and in tortillas or other food products.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning generally include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and occasional headaches and vomiting. Infection poses the biggest risk for younger and older individuals, as well as those with suppressed immune systems.
Still no recall has been made on any tomatoes, as the source of the salmonella outbreak has not yet been pinpointed.
Area counties with confirmed cases of salmonella include Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman and Tarrant counties. No deaths have been reported as a result of this outbreak in the state.