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FDA Traces Salmonella Outbreak To Jalapeno Peppers
(Dow Jones 07/21 16:18:02)
By Jane Zhang Of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–After weeks of fruitless searching, federal regulators have found a smoking gun in the salmonella outbreak originally blamed on tomatoes: one jalapeno pepper contaminated with the rare Saintpaul strain of salmonella. The positive sample – a pepper grown in Mexico that was found at Agricola Zaragoza Inc., a relatively small distributor in McAllen, Texas – prompted the Food and Drug Administration to warn consumers against eating fresh jalapeno peppers and foods made of them. The warning doesn’t apply to processed, cooked or pickled peppers, said David Acheson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for foods. Dr. Acheson said the sample was taken when the agency inspected the facility as part of the investigation of the outbreak. He said investigators are not sure where contamination occurred, and he declined to say where peppers from the distributor were shipped. Just last week, the FDA lifted a similar warning about eating certain types of raw tomatoes. For more than a month, the agency, along with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had blamed tomatoes on the outbreak that has sickened 1,251 people nationwide since April. But none of the 1,700 tomato samples collected by the agency proved to be contaminated with the Saintpaul strain of salmonella. The agency, however, hasn’t exonerated tomatoes because of risks of cross contamination, among other reasons. But the industry estimated it has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since early June when the government first issued its warning.
Salmonella is a feces-borne bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most people recover without treatment, but in severe cases the infection can cause death. Authorities have said the latest outbreak, which began in April, caused the death of a Texas man in his 80s, and may have contributed to the death of another Texas man, who had cancer.
The FDA has also updated their website with more information on the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak:
The New Mexico Restaurant Association’s mission is to empower the food and beverage industry by promoting and protecting common values and interests. It has more than 1,000 members in 111 cities all over New Mexico, who join together for meetings, seminars and the hospitality industry awards to honor the industry’s top achievers. It has actively represented and promoted the food service industry in New Mexico since 1946.