THE tomato industry in Florida has collapsed and $US40 million ($42m) worth of tomatoes will rot unless the source of a salmonella outbreak can be quickly traced, an industry official says.
There have been 145 reported cases, including at least 23 hospitalisations, related to the salmonella outbreak since mid-April. The infections were caused by Salmonella Saintpaul, an uncommon type of the bacteria.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday warned US consumers that the salmonella outbreak was linked to eating certain raw red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes, and products containing those tomatoes.
Several major restaurant and grocery chains have stopped selling those varieties.
Florida tomatoes are safe to eat, health officials said.The Food and Drug Administration reported the locally grown crop is not linked to the nationwide salmonella scare.Dozens of states report cases of food poisoning linked to tomatoes.However, there are no cases here in Florida, which is the largest producer of tomatoes in the country.