Despite months of looking, the FDA announced today it’s found evidence of the Salmonella strain that’s sickened the nation, in a serrano pepper farm in Mexico.
At a congressional hearing, FDA investigators said they had targeted that farm and late Wednesday they got a positive ID for the Salmonella Saintpaul strain, the same strain that has sickened more than 1,300 in the U.S. and Canada.
The FDA issued a warning this afternoon telling consumers to avoid eating raw serrano peppers from Mexico, and raw jalapeno peppers from Mexico, and any foods that contain them, such as salsa.
Mexico is calling the discovery “premature” and the announcement is causing a food fight with Mexico.
Last Friday, that country’s director of Farm Food Quality sent a letter to the U.S. “expressing our concern and our most forceful complaint against this decision”.
He called the decision to make an announcement “arbitrary.” Mexico contends that there is not enough scientific proof to make an announcement that will harm Mexico’s economy.
Mexico expects that the “precise source of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak can be pinpointed soon so producers can resume business."
The FDA has been trying to source the Salmonella contaminant since April and investigators found a common denominator among many who were sickened was pepper from Mexico. Texas had the highest number of people who contracted the bacterial contamination.
Pepper grown in the U.S. has not been found to have Salmonella Saintpaul.
On July 17, the FDA announced fresh tomatoes were not associated with the current outbreak and they were taken off the suspicious list.
So far nearly 242 hospitalizations have followed the Salmonella Saintpaul sickness, characterized by cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Those who are immune-compromised are particularly vulnerable to Salmonella, which kills about 400 every year.
The food-borne illness has highlighted how difficult it is to trace a food poisoning outbreak in perishable produce. #