The FDA announced yesterday, July 21, 2008, that they have traced the Salmonella SaintPaul strain that has caused a widespread outbreak of gastrointestinal illness in nearly 1,300 identified people in 43 states. A sample of jalapeno pepper found in a produce distribution center in McAllen, Texas, is a genetic match for the Salmonella SaintPaul responsible for the outbreak.
The pepper was grown in Mexico, but the FDA says that it may not have been contaminated there. Investigation continues into the source of the contamination.
The FDA and the produce center, Agricola Zaragoza, are working to recall all peppers handled through the center since June 30, 2008.
Consumers should continue to avoid eating raw jalapeno peppers or foods containing them, according to the FDA.
The FDA is also advising high risk populations including infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems not to eat raw serrano peppers. Serrano peppers are similar in shape and color, but smaller than jalapenos.
Tomatoes, according to the FDA, are now safe to eat.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are collaborating with the FDA in investigating the source of the illnesses.