August 9, 2008

Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak

FDA Update as of August 1, 2008

At Pinellas County Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences wants you to be aware of all potential food hazards so that you can make knowledgeable decisions about the food you buy for your family. In an effort to keep you informed, we are releasing the following FDA tomato update. Please follow the FDA’s instructions so that you are not affected by this foodborne illness.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers that jalapeño and Serrano peppers grown in the United States are not connected with the current Salmonella St. Paul outbreak and consumers may feel free to eat them without concern of contamination.

The FDA's advisory to avoid eating raw jalapeño and raw serrano peppers, and foods that contain them, applies only to these types of peppers grown, harvested or packed in Mexico.

In addition to domestically grown raw jalapeño and raw serrano peppers, commercially canned, pickled and cooked jalapeño and serrano peppers from any geographic location also are not connected with the current Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.

Laboratory testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that both a sample of serrano pepper and a sample of irrigation water collected by agency investigators on a farm in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico (business address is in Nuevo Leon, Mexico) contain Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint as the strain of bacteria that is causing the current outbreak in the United States.

FDA is working with state regulatory agencies and food industry groups representing restaurants, grocery stores, and wholesalers to ensure that this new advisory is clearly understood by everyone. The FDA will continue to refine its consumer guidance as the agency's investigation continues.

FDA's advisory to the public is based on evidence gathered by the intensive investigation that has been ongoing for several weeks to find the source of the contamination. Information from FDA's traceback investigation, laboratory test results, and harvesting dates, matched with the dates that people became ill, have combined to indicate that the contaminated jalapeno and Serrano peppers originated in Mexico.

If you have any questions or concerns on this issue, please call us at 582-2100 and we will do our best to help you.

For the latest information on the number of outbreak cases and where they occurred, see the CDC's webpage on the outbreak: Investigation of Outbreak of Infections Caused by Salmonella Saintpaul (CDC) [en Español]

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