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Identifying the Origin of Salmonella in Tomatoes

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A recent salmonella outbreak associated with tomatoes leaves fast-food chains a condiment short and triggers a blame-game as the investigation continues.

With millions exposed to possible infection Federal Drug Administration spokeswoman Kimberly Rawling tells The Associated Press, “We are working hard and fast on this one and hope to have something as quick as possible,” commenting on the ongoing investigation.

While 17 states have been linked to the infected tomatoes the FDA also says, “. . . It is likely many more illnesses have occurred than those reported. Some of these unreported illnesses many be in states that are not [identified].”

The Food and Drug Administration has not released the origin of the tainted tomatoes and investigations by the New Mexico and Texas Departments of Health and the Indian Health Service is underway, says the Center for Disease Control.

However, Government Relations and International Agriculture Consultant for Trans Tech Ag Corp. J. Luis Rodriguez says, “There’s not doubt in my mind that this is coming from Mexico.”

Rodriguez, who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1990s under President George Bush, says there are also government officials who believe the tainted tomatoes originate from Mexico, but would not release any names.

Unsure why the government has not officially pinpointed Mexico, Rodriguez says, “I don’t know what the policy of this government is. It’s ridiculous. . . We’re scared to offend the Mexicans.”

Leaving many companies without sliced tomatoes, those who have voluntarily halted the use of the vegetable include McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Jack in the Box.

However, with the addition of new information, Jack in the Box, who stopped using tomatoes on Thursday, May 5, said in a press release Friday, May 6, they will once again serve tomatoes at all locations since their shipment is FDA approved.

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