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    Salmonella Threat Rises with One Reported Death

    Sheetz is the latest retailer to pull the fruit as the FDA works double-time to find source of tainted tomatoes.

    WASHINGTON -- As the number of salmonella cases rise to 167, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it hopes to release the source of the salmonella outbreak connected to tomatoes in 17 states in the coming days.

    "We are getting closer to identifying the source or sources," Julie Zawisza, a spokeswoman for the FDA, told The New York Times.

    Grocery stores and retailers, including Sheetz, have pulled raw red plum, red Roma and red round tomatoes from rotation. While the federal agency scrambles to find the source, industry analysts say it could take days or even weeks before the source, or sources, are identified. Until then, the nation is on alert as tomato sales plummet, which might ultimately cost the industry hundreds of million of dollars.

    In New Mexico, 62 confirmed cases of the "Saintpaul" bacteria strain have been reported, including a 67-year-old Texas cancer patient who is believed to be the only death associated with the salmonella poisoning, reported CTV Global Media.

    Since 1990 there have been 13 multistate outbreaks of salmonella poisoning related to tomatoes, which are particularly susceptible to contamination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Patricia Griffin, chief of the disease centers' enteric disease epidemiology branch told The New York Times that while 167 cases have been reported, it is likely that far more people are ill with symptoms but have not sought medical attention.

    The FDA has cleared fresh Florida tomatoes that are currently being harvested and all California tomatoes in connection with a salmonella scare in the U.S., reported CTV Global Media. To date, tomatoes grown in the following states, territories and countries have not been associated with the current outbreak: Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, the Netherlands and Puerto Rico.

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