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Tainted Raw Tomatoes Sickened at Least 19 Around Michigan

July 12, 2008

By Sarah Tompkins, Detroit Free Press

Jul. 12–At least 19 Michiganders have fallen ill from the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that has stricken many states and is associated with raw tomatoes and possibly other fresh foods, the Michigan Department of Community Health said Friday.

The department reported food poisoning victims ranged from 2 years old to 78, and there were cases in nine counties, including two cases in Wayne County. Five people have been hospitalized, state health officials said, and the remaining victims are recovering.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 1,065 Salmonella Saintpaul-linked cases since April in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

Evidence points to certain raw tomatoes as the source of the outbreak, but new information shows that raw jalapeno and serrano peppers and cilantro also may be connected, investigators said.

Health officials advise consumers to limit their tomato consumption to specific tomatoes from approved sources. Consumers should avoid raw red plum, red Roma or red round tomatoes, though tomatoes grown in Michigan have not been associated with the outbreak. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and tomatoes sold with the vine or grown at home are safe, the Food and Drug Administration said.

State and federal agencies continue to investigate the outbreak. For information go to http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html.

Contact SARAH TOMPKINS at stompkins@freepress.com.

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