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Salmonella Outbreak Blamed on Mexican-Grown Peppers

Jul 28, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Jalapeno peppers grown in Mexico have been implicated in a massive Salmonella outbreak, prompting a new warning from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  The agency is advising consumers to avoid raw jalapenos grown in Mexico, as well as foods made with them.  However, the FDA says that jalapeno and Serrano peppers grown in the U.S. have no connection to the outbreak.

Since April, 1294 people have become infected with Salmonella Saintpaul.  Illnesses have been reported in Alabama (3 persons), Arkansas (19), Arizona (56), California (9), Colorado (16), Connecticut (5), Florida (3), Georgia (40), Idaho (6), Illinois (115), Indiana (20), Iowa (2), Kansas (20), Kentucky (2), Louisiana (2), Maine (1), Maryland (37), Massachusetts (29), Michigan (25), Minnesota (22), Mississippi (2), Missouri (20), Montana (1), New Hampshire (5), Nevada (13), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (106), New York (39), North Carolina (23), Ohio (10), Oklahoma (25), Oregon (11), Pennsylvania (12), Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (9), Texas (495), Utah (2), Virginia (31), Vermont (2), Washington (17), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (13), and the District of Columbia (1). Five Canadians have also become sick with Salmonella Saintpaul, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), four appear to have been infected while traveling in the U.S.

Initially, the outbreak was blamed on certain varieties of raw tomatoes, but even after the tomatoes were taken off the market, illnesses continued.  Earlier this month, the FDA renewed efforts to find the source of the Salmonella outbreak, and focused on raw peppers and other foods served with raw tomatoes. The agency recently declared tomatoes safe, and warned consumers to stay away from jalapenos.

But the FDA says some types of jalapenos, including those grown in the U.S. are safe to eat.   The agency also says that commercially canned, pickled and cooked jalapeno peppers from any and all geographic locations are not connected with the current Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.

The 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.


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