FDA Says U.S. Made Peppers OK, Traces Salmonella To Mexico

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers that jalapeño and serrano peppers grown in the United States are not connected with the current Salmonella St. Paul outbreak and consumers may feel free to eat them without concern of contamination, however in FDA says peppers made in Mexico are contaminated.

The FDA's advice to avoid raw jalapeño peppers, and foods that contain them, now applies only to peppers grown, harvested or packed in Mexico.

In addition to domestically grown raw jalapeño peppers, commercially canned, pickled and cooked jalapeño peppers from any and all geographic locations also are not connected with the current Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.

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FDA is working with state regulatory agencies and food industry groups representing restaurants, grocery stores, and wholesalers to ensure that this new advisory is clearly understood by everyone. The FDA will continue to refine its consumer guidance as the agency's investigation continues.

This new information is based on evidence gathered by the intensive investigation that has been ongoing for several weeks to find the source of the contamination which has led to the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak. The current traceback investigation and harvesting dates, matched with the dates that people became ill, have combined to indicate that the contaminated peppers originated in Mexico.

Additional traceback information obtained this week indicates that the Agricola Zaragoza plant in McAllen, Texas—from where the positive jalapeño pepper sample was taken—have determined that the Texas plant was not the original source of the contamination.

FDA is continuing to advise that people in high risk populations, such as elderly persons, infants and people with impaired immune systems, avoid eating raw Serrano peppers from Mexico or food made from raw Serrano peppers from Mexico until further notice.

According to the CDC, 1,307 persons with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Canada since April 2008.

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