The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing its traceback to determine the source of an outbreak of salmonella saintpaul associated with certain fresh tomatoes.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the number of illness to 383 involving residents of 30 states. The agency said the outbreak is ongoing.
Meanwhile, Florida growers are wrapping up their tomato operations. The FDA on June 11 announced these Florida counties were not associated with the outbreak: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, Desoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando and Charlotte. Growers in the cleared areas are to provide a certificate issued by the state with each shipment of tomatoes verifying they were harvested after May 1.
Tomatoes grown in certain parts of Mexico and South Florida and harvested before May 1, however, have not been ruled out as a potential cause of salmonella-related illnesses that occurred between April 10 and June 5. Dr. David Acheson, FDA’s associate commissioner for foods, said June 13 that the tomatoes in question probably came from one, not both of those regions.
FFVA has been working with other industry groups to help re-establish buyer and consumer confidence. A letter encouraging retailers and food service operators to quickly bring Florida tomatoes back to their shelves and menus has been sent to major customers. Producer members may access the letter in the FFVA Member Resource Library at www.ffva.com.
In addition, industry groups have engaged a national polling company to conduct a survey of consumers to determine the extent of damage the outbreak has caused to their confidence in tomatoes and other fresh produce.
And the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will offer "Fresh from Florida" labels and/or point of purchase materials upon request to help identify and promote healthy Florida product. Call the Division of Marketing and Development at (850) 488-9948 or e-mail mailto:email@example.com.
The logos are also temporarily being placed on FDACS's web site, www.florida-agriculture.com, for distributors and retailers to download. There will be no charge for the requested materials or for shipping. The material will be available for ten days.