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CINCINNATI -- Since mid-April, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recorded that 166 people have been infected with salmonella from tomatoes, which has prompted Kroger, Wawa, Taco Bell, Costco, Wal-Mart, McDonalds and other retailers to pull the vegetable from rotation.
"Nobody has ever seen a recall like this," Craig Wilson, Costco's vice president for food safety and quality assurance, told Seattlepi.com. "We were lucky at Costco. It worked out that everything we were selling came from states that were considered safe."
According to The Associated Press, federal authorities said reports were fielded from 16 states. So far, 23 people have been hospitalized. While there have been no deaths, retailers' recall Taco Bell's E. coli scare in 2006 and are not taking chances, doing so by following the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recommendations. Wendy's, for example, stopped serving tomatoes on its sandwiches in suburban Columbus as a precaution, reported the AP.
Wawa, which has had no incidents, is complying with FDA recommendations by placing red signs that read: "As a precaution, items with sliced tomatoes are being recalled and will be unavailable until further notice."
"I'm not sure when we'll be back in the tomato business," Lori Bruce, a spokeswoman for Wawa, told the Press of Atlantic City. "But I hope it will be soon."
While the source has not been pinpointed, the FDA cited raw red Roma, raw plum and raw red round tomatoes as culprits. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and tomatoes grown at home are alright to eat, reported the government agency.
According to Seatttlepi.com, the FDA estimates that roughly 40 more cases of salmonella poisoning will reported by days end.