Web Editor's note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to update the number of reported illnesses from Salmonella Saintpaul, and the states in which the illnesses were reported. Go here to view these updates.

(June 6, UPDATED 12:17 p.m.) The Food and Drug Administration has narrowed its search for the source of tainted tomatoes that have been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul in Texas and New Mexico.

The FDA appears to have implicated Mexico in the process, but David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association said it was premature to blame Mexican product.

“They’ve been very careful to not say, ‘Hey, it’s Mexico,’ because they’re not at that point,” Gombas said June 6. “It’s in the best interest of the industry not to read anything into that list.”

The FDA said June 5 that it had eliminated tomatoes produced in five states — California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas — as possible sources of the illnesses. The agency also ruled out imported product from Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel and The Netherlands as well as Puerto Rico.

The New Mexico Department of Health had said earlier in the week that its investigators were looking closely at product from Mexico. The FDA did not name Mexico as the source but did not include it in its list of production areas that had been cleared.

An FDA spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The FDA and CDC have linked the outbreak to raw roma, red plum and round red tomatoes. The FDA said June 5 that it recommends that New Mexico and Texas retailers, restaurateurs, and food service companies limit distribution of those varieties to product sourced from the areas that it has cleared.

The agency’s consumer advisory has been limited to those two states, though about 30 Salmonella Saintpaul cases are under investigation in nine other states.

The FDA reiterated that cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes on the vine have not been implicated, regardless of sourcing area.

FDA leaves Florida, Mexico on outbreak source list
San Antonio-based H.E. Butt Co. pulled selected varieties of tomatoes out of its Texas stores following an outbreak of salmonella. The Central Market-banner HEB store in Austin on June 5 had signs informing customers of what it called a "precautionary recall" of selected varieties on display in its produce, deli and prepared foods departments.