A Southern Arizona produce distributor is working closely with the Food and Drug Administration to prevent further sale of salmonella-contaminated cucumbers, officials said Friday.

Tricar Sales Inc., based in Rio Rico, was identified as a distributor of the Mexican cucumbers that sickened 73 people in 18 states.

The Centers for Disease Control reports 14 people were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

There were nine reported cases in Arizona, said Laura Oxley, a spokeswoman for the state health department.

In Pima County, officials are aware of four cases, said Michael Acoba, the epidemiology program manager with the Pima County Health Department.

Illness onset dates were from Jan. 12 to April 6, the CDC reported.

Rod Sbragia, director of sales and marketing for Tricar, said the distributor worked with the FDA to identify the source of the contaminated cucumbers.

"We are a very prevalent supplier of cucumbers in the U.S. market, and therefore we were focused upon," he said.

Tricar has a private lab, approved by the FDA, testing the produce, and no contamination has been found in the past four weeks, Sbragia said.

The contaminated cucumbers were supplied by Daniel Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse of Culiacán, Sinaloa.

The FDA has placed an import alert on their produce and the U.S. won't accept the imports until testing shows the bacteria are not present.

Acoba, with the county health department, said these incidents serve as a reminder to handle fresh produce with diligence.

"Consumers should always be aware of the possibility of contamination and thoroughly wash fresh produce," he said.

"Consumers should always be aware of the possibility of contamination and thoroughly wash fresh produce."

Michael Acoba

Pima County Health Department

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@azstarnet.com or 573-4232.