According to the FDA, Serrano and Jalapeno peppers grown in the U.S. have been ruled out as a cause of the current salmonella outbreak which has been caused by the Salmonella Saintpaul strain of the bacteria. All commercially canned, pickled or cooked jalapenos have also been determined to be safe. However, the agency is still urging consumers to avoid Mexican grown, harvested or packed raw Serrano and Jalapeno peppers, as well as foods which may contain these products, such as salsa.
This latest FDA statement was issued late Friday to clarify prior warnings about the source of the salmonella outbreak which has sickened nearly 1,300 people throughout the United States. The health agency was able to rule out Jalapeno peppers and Serrano peppers grown in the U.S. after a review of evidence gathered as part of an on-going investigation which is being carried out in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health authorities.
The trace-back investigation and harvesting dates were checked against the dates that people started falling ill from salmonella food poisoning about 90 days ago. Signs have pointed to Mexico as the origin of contaminated jalapeno pepper which have tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul bacteria, which has been the common thread in the outbreak.
Although only jalapeno peppers have been confirmed to be contaminated with Salmonella Saintpaul, the FDA is also urging the elderly, children and those with weak immune systems to avoid Serrano peppers, which are often mistaken for Jalapenos.
Cases of food poisoning linked to the salmonella outbreak have resulted in over 200 hospitalizations and several suspected deaths which could be caused by the infection. Infants, elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk of food poisoning from Salmonella Saintpaul. In severe cases, common symptoms of the food poisoning, such as vomiting, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain could progress to a more serious and potentially fatal injury if the bacteria enters the bloodstream.