Natural Foods Merchandiser

Serrano peppers now suspected in salmonella outbreak

by Laurie Budgar

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that serrano peppers from Mexico have now been implicated along with jalapeños in the salmonella outbreak affecting U.S. consumers.

FDA inspectors found that a sample of serrano peppers and a sample of irrigation water collected on a farm in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon contained salmonella Saintpaul, with the same genetic fingerprint as the strain currently causing the U.S. illnesses. That bacterium was also found on jalapeño peppers last week at a produce distribution facility in McAllen, Texas.

The FDA is warning consumers not to eat raw serrano or jalapeño peppers from Mexico, or any foods that contain them. The agency further advises that washing, peeling or cooking these peppers is unlikely to rid them of the bacteria, and could spread salmonella to sinks, cutting boards and other equipment and foods.

Retailers may continue to sell raw jalapeño and serrano peppers grown, harvested or packed in the United States, as well as foods made with them.

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