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CDC’s Tauxe Says Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak Investigation Now Looking Beyond Tomatoes

The fact the number of confirmed cases of Salmonella Saintpaul continued to rise on Monday was not the big worry for the Centers for Disease Conrol and Prevention (CDC).

It was the fact that the date that people continued to fall ill continues to move forward, now the latest onset date for the illness is June 20th.

That means that in the month sine the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took over the investigation into the outbreak that began in New Mexico and Texas; not much has been accomplished. People were warned not to eat certain tomatoes thought to be associated with the outbreak. No tomato field has yet to be named as the source of the outbreak.

And people are still getting sick.

So after last Friday’s press conference where FDA and CDC officials acknowledged that the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak might be due to something other than tomatoes, something had to happen today.

Robert Tauxe, CDC’s deputy director for food-borne diseases, told USA Today that "we’re broadening the investigation to be sure it encompasses food items that are commonly consumed with tomatoes."  (Tauxe is pictured above)

Indeed there is evidence that CDC has been pulling FDA off the single focus on tomatoes for several days.   And after Friday’s CDC/FDA press conference,  USA Today reports:

Over the weekend, the tide of opinion among epidemiologists, produce companies and food safety officials also began to turn in that direction.

Tomatoes couldn’t have caused an outbreak that has stretched from early April to late June, says Jim Prevor, editor of Produce Business magazine. "There’s not a field in the world" that produces that long, he says.

If not tomatoes, what else? "Something that people find difficult to remember but which is always served with tomatoes," says Tauxe.

That would put salsa, jalapeño peppers, green onions and cilantro at the top of the list of potential culprits, says Doug Powell, director of the International Food Safety Network at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS.

For the rest of the USA Today story, go here.