N.M. Officials Ask Restaurants to Stop Serving Tomatoes

Salmonella fears lead officials to ask restaurants to stop serving tomatoes.

June 6, 2008— -- SANTA FE (AP) - New Mexico restaurants, hospitals, schools andgrocery stores are being asked to stop selling and serving certainraw tomatoes and products made with the raw produce due to a recentwave of salmonella cases.

The department points specifically to raw red plum, Roma andround red tomatoes as well as fresh salsa made with tomatoes.

"The department's food program bureau is contactingdistributors of tomatoes to ensure they notify food establishmentsto stop serving tomatoes suspected in making people sick,"Environment Secretary Ron Curry said Thursday in a statement.

State and federal health officials are investigating thespecific type and source of tomatoes causing the outbreak. However,the Environment Department said preliminary data suggests raw redplum, Roma and round tomatoes are the cause.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that people eattomatoes that have not been implicated in the outbreak. Thoseinclude cherry and grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vinestill attached and homegrown tomatoes.

Four dozen New Mexicans have become ill with a strain ofsalmonella linked to tomatoes. Cases have been reported in nearly athird of the state's 33 counties. Several people were hospitalizedbut no deaths have been reported.

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and abdominalcramps 12 to 72 hours after being infected. The illness usuallylasts four to seven days, and most people recover withouttreatment, the state Health Department said.

However, the elderly, the very young and people with impairedimmune systems are more likely to become severely ill, which mayrequire hospitalization due to diarrhea.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)