Health Officials: We Finally Found Salmonella In A Jalapeño!

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.

Consumer Report’s article says,

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]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Angryrider says:

    Thanks Consumerist! I read about this in the newspapers yesterday.

  2. ARP says:

    Wow- we’re certainly lucky we didn’t have those pesky government inspectors checking our food supply and may have prevented this or mitigated it. The free market is the real winner here. And the free market won about negative 120 million dollars.

  3. petrarch1614 says:

    @ARP: why the hating on the free-market? Your ability to complain on a computer on the net is certainly due to the free-market. oh well, ignorance is bliss

  4. dulcinea47 says:

    I wonder if the FDA has looked into seed sources. My understanding is that it’s possible for salmonella or other bacteria to be present in the seed before it’s planted, resulting in tainted produce.

  5. chucklebuck says:

    Dammit, why did it have to be jalapeños? Why not asparagus or eggplant or some other vegetable I don’t love with all my heart?

  6. incognit000 says:

    And it took them /how/ long to figure this out?

    I worked in a food contamination lab as a temp job once. We got confirmed contamination every /day/. As one of my fellow grunt workers pointed out, “If the FDA did their job, this place would be out of business.”

  7. ElizabethD says:

    That pic for the win.

  8. chikarin says:

    poor tomatoes T_T got mixed up with some bad jalapenos

  9. madrigal says:

    I feel bad for the tomato farmers.

  10. JustaConsumer says:

    This demonstrates the problem in our country. People demonize the government, want to cut taxes, and then want the government to swoop in and save them. Sorry. The neocons decimated the FDA. Think before you vote.

  11. Anita Ham Sandwich says:

    Yikes. This kind of story, along with the recalls of meat sold months earlier, is what’s making me want to change my eating habits. At least if you get salmonella-ridden food at a farmer’s market, it’s LOCAL salmonella. :D

  12. CaptRavis says:

    So does it burn more when it is explosive diarrhea?

  13. lalaland13 says:

    I don’t want none of that there New York City salmonella. I want some real authentic Texas salmonella, dernit.

  14. timmus says:

    I want to see some investigation on how the salmonella gets into the vegetables. This strain of bacteria doesn’t just grow randomly on jalapenos. If regulators are not willing or able to do their homework to identify sanitation or packaging issues, then really this is just a waste of money.

  15. Tmoney02 says:

    @ARP: Wow- we’re certainly lucky we didn’t have those pesky government inspectors checking our food supply and may have prevented this or mitigated it.

    Hmmmmm funny, those government inspectors were pretty pesky or maybe just completely incompetent and unable to even figure out that it was Mexican food specifically jalapenos for months. And considering they are now saying its Jalapenos after finding one bad jalapeno in an entire packing plant who knows if they got it right.

    In the meantime they have cost tomatoes planters 100 of millions of dollars, (which by the way your tax dollars are most likely going to reimburse) and now are going to cost pepper farms to lose 100’s of millions of dollars with this recall for what? approx. 25 people per state (on avg) who have gotten sick? So I agree with you those are some pretty pesky government inspectors. Perhaps they should nail the source rather than having an entire industry recall their product. (especially when you don’t even get the right industry)

  16. Aphex242 says:

    Hilarious pic lol

  17. ekthesy says:

    Packing plant packs a peck of pestilent peppers!

  18. rellog says:

    Well, at least my Jalapenos are starting to come in right now in my garden. No salmonella here… :)

    @petrarch1614: The hating on the free market is because IT DOESN’T WORK! It is not preemptive, it is post-regulating and self-regulating at that… for the most part it’s crap. We need regulatory bodies to ensure that the market doesn’t get out of whack.
    And this “free market” that we’re typing on… yeah, it isn’t, is it? It is regulated and has demonstrated time and again it needs MORE regulation. Caps, censorship and monopolistic practices require governmental oversight, since we consumers really have little choice and even less power as individuals.

  19. ZenAndTonic says:


    Wait, every day? Did your company’s raw materials come from a source next to a chicken farm or something? Did you have to log positive results, and did the FDA come in once in a while to check those results?

    I’m not trying to poke holes in your story – I once worked as a full-time QC microbiologist, so I’m just curious how the situation was like for you.

  20. jwlukens says:

    Mexico: Don’t drink the water, don’t eat the peppers.

  21. petrarch1614 says:

    @rellog: monopolies are created by the government. They do not exist in a free-market. Censorship is also a product of the government.

    Complaining about the free-market on the internet is like complaining about farmers with a mouth full of corn.

  22. jwlukens says:

    @petrarch1614: Monopolies do exist in a free market, when one party is able to exert enough control to create barriers to entry. Government is required so that it can regulate and encourage competition in NECESSARY areas.

  23. petrarch1614 says:

    @jwlukens: its government regulations which create the barriers to entry

  24. VA_White says:

    This is why I love my salsa garden. Peppers and tomatoes nearly grow themselves. Next year we’re going to add onions.

  25. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @petrarch1614: You mean the internet that was born from ARPAnet? Which was a DOD (read: government) project?

  26. @ElizabethD: I know, cutest little health official ever!

  27. @VA_White: Onions are EXTREMELY easy — we plant them between rows of lettuce, along the borders of the tomato bed, anywhere there’s lots of above-ground plantage — AND they keep a lot of pests out of the garden. Flip side, though, is that unless your soil is very loose, they don’t grow as large as promised. So plant more than you think you could ever want, because burger onions are a myth unless you want to spend buttloads of time babying the soil!

    I love home-growing onions!

  28. MrMold says:

    The NeoCons promised that government didn’t work and they kept their promise. Political hacks in jobs that require competence. Monica Goodlings weeding out the honest and hardworking. An AG prosecuting political rivals. A pResident that will not punish the guilty.

    Oh, don’t believe anything from this administration. By the time the data is out, at least three layers of BushAppointees have cut out the pertinent information.

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    @petrarch1614: Are you nuts? The natural state of unregulated, non-commodity markets is either an oligopoly or a monopoly. Recall that in the cases of Standard Oil and the other ’20s trusts, Microsoft, Intel, etc., that gov’t intervention was to BREAK UP the monopolies, not create them.
    Capital attracts capital, to the detriment of consumers, business and innovation, unless checked. Look it up.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    Right now, 3,000,000 school-aged boys are irate that they didn’t think ahead enough to “contaminate” (hee hee) broccoli and brussel sprouts.

  31. Average_Joe says:

    It good to know they have no idea where the salmonella came from, but just to be safe they are trying to ruin what could be an innocent company by having them recall their products.

  32. james says:

    I will continue to eat jalapenos and tomatoes and whatever other vegetables I want. These “outbreaks” are way over exaggerated and do little except make people nervous and destroy certain markets.

  33. Tmoney02 says:

    @james: Totally Agree.

  34. jamar0303 says:

    @petrarch1614: Well, Japan’s 15-odd ISPs are competitive because of regulations. Look what happens when you DON’T obligate the only fiber ISP to share its lines- a monopoly (Verizon’s FiOS). Meanwhile in Japan practically every computer manufacturer has an ISP to their name as well as some others.

  35. TVarmy says:

    @petrarch1614: I’d say this is more an issue of free speech that we can complain about the free market online. China has a very free market, but their net-access is very much controlled. Also, the technology behind the internet was based on public research done by the military (Google ARPANET). You could argue that the private sector runs and maintains the internet, but they’re not so big on keeping it free. AT&T lets the government illegally wiretap the internet, and they’re going to be one of the first to impose tiered, more controlled net access, counter to net neutrality.

    Of course, the government could never manage a network as huge as the internet without seriously growing, which is why we need the private sector. We just need government intervention to ensure we get proper service with plenty of freedom.

  36. cerbie says:

    @jwlukens: if those barriers can be made, then it’s not a free market, and needs some regulation to help make it into one.

  37. jerseyvegan says:

    Maybe if the government didn’t let the meat industry control what they do we’d find out the real source. Haven’t heard much about the fact that water used on most plants is contaminated with animal feces…hmmm I wonder if that could cause salmonella??