Only showing how our food system is truly global, today, US government inspectors have found Salmonella Saintpaul, the strain responsible for a nationwide food-poisoning outbreak, in Mexican-grown jalapenos in a Texas plant, prompting a new warning for consumers to avoid eating fresh jalapenos.
However, the FDA continues to say that 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.
Ouch, that makes my head hurt. Phyllis Entis from Efoodalert raises a number of issues and questions that still need to be resolved:
1. Is the Salmonella Saintpaul that was found on the jalapeño pepper identical to the outbreak strain?
2. Where did the contamination originate – on the farm in Mexico, at the produce distributor, or somewhere in between?
3. Is there any connection between the contaminated jalapeño and tomatoes?
4. Does the distribution pattern of the jalapeño peppers correlate with the geographic distribution pattern of lab-confirmed outbreak cases?
5. What other produce does the McAllen distributor handle, and is there any chance that these other produce items might become contaminated through cross-contamination at the distributor?
6. Are any of these peppers still available for sale in retail stores?
7. Are any of these peppers still in the food service distribution network or in restaurant kitchens?