Government inspectors finally stumbled across a jalapeño which contains the same salmonella strain (Salmonella Saintpaul) that has been responsible for the recent salmonella outbreak in the United States. Health officials found the offending Mexican-grown jalapeño in a Texas plant. However, there are still many questions which need to be answered.
The finding doesn’t mean that Mexican jalapeños are the source—the pepper may not have been contaminated on the farm but somewhere else in the distribution chain. On the conference call announcing the discovery, the FDA identified the vegetable distribution plant as Agricola Zaragoza, Inc. of McAllen, TX. It’s a small operation, so it’s unlikely that this is the major source for all the problems. The peppers processed at the plant are being recalled.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in addition to peppers, tomatillos are packed at this plant. Officials didn’t say where in the distribution chain this packing plant falls. Is it one step away from the field or many?
Still, it’s a solid piece of evidence in an investigation that has confounded researchers—and consumers— for many months.
In the meantime, the government is warning consumers to avoid fresh jalapeños and products such as fresh salsa which contain jalapeños. Tomatoes currently on the market, are considered safe to eat.
The smokin’ jalapeño: Salmonella strain discovered in pepper [Consumer Reports]
Salmonella found in a Mexican-grown jalapeño [MSNBC]