On Friday, the FDA said the bulk of the tomatoes available in the United States at the start of the outbreak in April came from Mexico and sections of Florida.
Tomatoes currently being harvested in Florida are coming from the north and are coming to market with a certificate from the state guaranteeing that they were harvested in that area and are safe to eat, Acheson said. Many of the certificates are actually being posted in stores. The central and southern parts of Florida stopped harvesting about six weeks ago.
"The typical shelf life of a tomato is two to four weeks, so it's reasonable to assume that if these tomatoes did originate from Florida, they were harvested prior to May 1 and will no longer be in circulation or in retail stores," Acheson added.
The FDA has stepped up sampling of tomatoes coming across the border from all parts of Mexico. "Without a specific region to focus on yet, we have increased sampling from all parts of Mexico," Acheson said. "There is one part of Mexico Baja where they were into harvesting at the time of concern and they are on the list of exclusions."
The list of exclusions, according to the FDA Web site, now contains 37 states, Puerto Rico, parts of Florida and six countries -- Belgium, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, and the Netherlands.
The message to consumers continues to be that grape, cherry and tomatoes still attached to the vine have not been linked to the outbreak and are therefore safe to eat.
Roma, plum and red round tomatoes and products containing these tomatoes, the ones implicated in the illnesses, are safe to consume only if they are from areas that have been excluded from the ongoing investigation.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the salmonella outbreak.
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