FDA Finds Salmonella Strain in Jalapeno Pepper

Staff Report

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Government inspectors have found the same salmonella strain responsible for a nationwide food-poisoning outbreak in a Mexican-grown jalapeno in a Texas plant, prompting a new warning for consumers to avoid eating fresh jalapenos.

The Food and Drug Administration called Monday's announcement a "very important break in the case."

But it doesn't mean Mexican jalapenos are the culprit - the pepper may not have been contaminated on the farm. And while tomatoes currently are safe to eat, health officials also said the finding doesn't exonerate tomatoes that were sold earlier in the spring and summer.

The Texas plant, Agricola Zaragosa, has agreed to recall its fresh jalapenos, although the FDA wouldn't say how widely its produce was distributed.

It's not considered a major processor, and it's unclear how far into the United States peppers traveling through this small stop near the Mexican border would have traveled. That's something the FDA still is working to determine.

It's also not clear if the produce distributor ever handled tomatoes. Officials say no other produce currently in the plant has tested positive for salmonella.