FDA: Nationwide Warning On Jalapenos

Armen Hareyan's picture
Jalapeno peppers as source of Salmonella

The jalapeno market is at serious risk today as FDA says that fresh Jalapeno peppers may be the source of the Salmonella infection. FDA's investigators found salmonella bacteria on a jalapeño pepper imported from Mexico at a Texas food supplier.

FDA's David Acheson announced a breakthrough in the case today. (Find link to audio of FDA teleconference here) A small distributor was identified in Texas (watch for David Mitchell's coverage on The Packer's news site for that name) from which a pepper was tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul by an FDA lab. That has prompted the FDA to issue a nationwide warning for consumption of fresh jalapeno peppers. The pepper came from Mexico, FDA believes, but the warning is nationwide and includes jalapenos of all origins.

As far as where the trace-forward goes, the FDA is looking at distribution records, but said it won't release the names of retailers or foodservice distributors/operators who might have sold peppers from the distributor.

The FDA said all tomatoes are now safe to eat, but still won't exonerate tomatoes in the outbreak investigation as a possible cause earlier on.

Harkin - salmonella statement


National Trace-Back System, Better FDA Techniques Could Have Identified Salmonella Culprit Sooner

Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chairman of Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today issued the following statement after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified jalapeno peppers as the source of the recent Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Leavitt last week, Harkin said that the outbreak demonstrated the need for better coordination and communication among federal agencies, industry, and the states, as well as a strong trace-back system to determine the source of food-borne illness outbreaks. To view the letter, click here.

“Nearly three months have lapsed since the first case of Salmonella Saintpaul was diagnosed. While the number of cases grew to over 1200 sick people and consumers began questioning the safety of our food supply, it is only now that the FDA has been able to identify the source of contamination. This is far too long for an outbreak to spread unresolved and it is unacceptable for public health, farmers and the food and produce industry.

“It is long past time for the government to take comprehensive steps to improve our response to food-borne illness outbreaks. It is time for a national trace-back system and better FDA techniques, which could have identified the Salmonella culprit sooner.”

TK: Harkin's interpretation of events may be slightly different than the FDA's. Whether the FDA has assigned blame to jalapenos can only be inferred at this point. In any case, traceability moves to the legislative front burner.

Reported by Fresh Talk http://freshtalk.blogspot.com/

CDC reports that "Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called Salmonella. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness."