Let My Salsa Be: Salmonella Taints Serrano Chilies

July 30, 2008 at 7:28 pm

First you attacked my ‘maters, then my cilantro (my favorite herb), and then my jalapenos.  I decided to use canned tomatoes and grow my own cilantro.  As for the japs, I like serrano chilies just as much, so there.  Or so I thought, then I read the latest from the FDA and your little salmonella bomb has hit them, too.  OK, Al Qaeda, now it’s personal.  I’m growing my own chilies as well.  Thank you AeroGarden!  But remember Al Qaeda, the next time I catch you walking through my neighborhood, your getting an old fashioned Alabama butt whoopin’.

Serrano peppers from Mexico farm have salmonella, FDA Says

From the Associated Press
12:23 PM PDT, July 30, 2008

WASHINGTON — The salmonella strain linked to a nationwide outbreak has been found in irrigation water and a serrano pepper at a Mexican farm, federal health officials said today.

Dr. David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety chief, called the finding a key breakthrough in the case, as did another health official.

 

“We have a smoking gun, it appears,” said Dr. Lonnie King who directs the center for foodborne illnesses at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Acheson said the farm is in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Previously, the FDA had traced a contaminated jalapeno pepper to a farm in another part of Mexico.

Acheson and other officials were grilled at a congressional hearing about why the investigation originally focused on tomatoes.

The officials insisted that tomatoes still cannot be ruled out and that it is quite possible that the outbreak was caused by several different kinds of contaminated produce.

The outbreak has sickened more than 1,300 people since April.

Tomatoes had been the prime suspect in the nationwide outbreak for weeks. But last week, the FDA said only jalapeno peppers grown in Mexico were implicated in the nationwide salmonella outbreak. The FDA said then it had found the same strain of salmonella responsible for the outbreak on a single Mexican-grown jalapeno in a south Texas produce warehouse.

If it turns out the tainted irrigation water was also used on tomatoes, it could provide some of the evidence that federal authorities are looking for to back their original focus on the fruit.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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