A salmonella outbreak potentially linked to produce has sickened at least 172 people in 18 states, including 51 cases that were reported in Massachusetts in September, health officials said yesterday.

Health officials said the bacteria may have spread through some form of produce; the list of suspects includes tomatoes. But the illnesses have not been tied to any specific product, restaurant, or supermarket.

The 51 Massachusetts cases of bacterial illness were reported in September and appear to have been caused by the same strain blamed for outbreaks elsewhere in the country, a state health spokeswoman said last night.

None of the Bay State victims suffered serious complications, and no new cases have been reported since the end of September. The state typically has about 1,300 cases of salmonella a year.