A tomato packing house in Florida was the common link between three 2004 outbreaks of salmonella infection associated with eating Roma tomatoes, according to the current Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreaks caused 561 illnesses in 18 states and in one Canadian province.

Although the packing house was common to all three outbreaks, other growers or packers may have supplied contaminated tomatoes that contributed to the illnesses.

The report noted that current methods of eradicating salmonella from fruit are inadequate. Because of this, food safety agencies, public health officials and the agricultural industry should make it a priority to investigate better methods.

Federal and state government investigations of the 2004 outbreaks will continue during the 2005 growing season.