Federal food safety investigators may have found a clue to the outbreak of salmonella Stpaul, which has has sickened 1,251 people in the pasty few months. The Stpaul strain has been found in jalapeno peppers distributed by a Texas company by the name of Agricola Zaragoza. Agricola Zaragoza is recalling jalapeños it has shipped since June 30, according to the FDA.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Monday’s discovery, the equivalent of a fingerprint, doesn’t solve the mystery: Authorities still don’t know where the pepper became tainted — on the farm, or in the McAllen, Texas, plant, or at some stop in between, such as a packing house.
Federal officials are now warning all consumers to avoid eating fresh jalapeno peppers and products that contain them. The FDA isn’t limiting its warning to jalapeno peppers from specific sources because officials aren’t sure they if tainted peppers had an opportunity to cross-contaminate jalapenos from other sources at points along the production and distribution chain. The warning does not include processed, cooked, or pickled jalapeno peppers.
Although this discovery represents a siginificant break for investigators, this is the third product to be implicated in the outbreak in the past few weeks and the second in just a matter of days. As consumers, we can all hope that the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place for a definitive answer.