Leavitt expressed his plan after health inspectors traveled to several areas in Mexico, which they believe might be source of the occurrence. Officials from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are also visiting several tomato-growing counties in Florida in their attempts to trace the origins of the Salmonella outbreak.
Speaking during a weeklong visit to Mexico and Central America, Leavitt said yesterday that inspectors were inspecting farms, distribution centers and transportation methods with their Mexican counterparts. U.S officials said investigators are focusing their investigation on tomatoes from three states: Jalisco, Sinaloa and Coahuila.
Initially, the Salmonella outbreak halted all tomato imports from Mexico, but regulators have now cleared shipments from most of the country, except those from the three suspect states.
Explaining the necessity for a Latin American food safety office, Leavitt cited both the tomato outbreak, and another Salmonella incident earlier this year that stemmed from cantaloupes imported from Honduras.