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August 7, 2008

FDA Decides Mexican Peppers Are the Cause of Salmonella Poisonings

After a few months of guessing exactly what we could and could not eat, the FDA has come out to say that peppers should be avoided because of possible salmonella poisoning. Mexican health officials say that the warnings are premature. The warnings apply to Mexican grown raw jalapenos and raw Serrano peppers.

Mexico’s National Sanitation and Farm Food Quality Service director Entrique Sanchez issued a that basically said they were concerned and did to agree with this warning. A warning like this from the FDA of course, will harm the sells of peppers from Mexico. In fact, they will most likely be pulled off of store shelves. Sanchez says that the FDA is lacking scientific proof that the peppers are contaminated.

However, the FDA discovered salmonella on a jalapeno that was imported from Mexico. It arrived at The Agricola Zarigosa produce distribution center in McAllen, Texas. The hunt of the culprit that was spreading salmonella poisoning has been going on for months now. The suspects were tomatoes for quite some time but that was just speculation. Salmonella was suspected to have been on tomatoes but as time went on, the suspect list grew to include jalapenos. The FDA says that they used trace back studies to determine that jalapeños were the cause. The victims that became sick all had had jalapeno peppers that originated from Mexico.

Over the course of the study the FDA says that they have not found anything wrong with the peppers that are grown in the United States. Also, they say that the produce distribution center is not the source of the outbreak. That leaves the likely source as being peppers grown in Mexico.

Mexico is mad, of course. They have “strongly urged” the FDA from saying anything else in public about Mexican produce until they have completed an investigation of jalapeno peppers in Mexico. What a joke. Come on. People have been getting sick and a couple have died because of this outbreak. If there is a culprit and it has been found, why not just work to correct the problem as soon as possible. Issuing silly statements that kind of sound a little threatening is not going to help the situation.

The ban on tomatoes has been lifted and one is now placed on jalapenos. These warnings generally have a blanket effect on the public. I know that it is hard to keep up with which vegetables are under the ban. I tend to avoid all of whatever kind of vegetable is being banned. However, canned jalapenos are not under the ban. Also, only elderly people and small children should avoid raw Serrano peppers.

Tomatoes also have not been completely ruled out as the cause of the outbreak. They are apparently still a suspect in the salmonella outbreak case. However, the FDA says that the tomatoes that are currently in stores or in fields are not under suspicion. There is a chance that tomatoes were paired with another food and helped to cause the outbreak.

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