Officials find salmonella on another jalapeño

By David Mitchell

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(July 29, UPDATED 2:09 p.m.) A second jalapeño pepper has tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul, and this time, it has been directly linked to a sick consumer.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said July 28 that that a pepper provided by an ill resident of Montezuma County tested positive with the same strain of salmonella that has caused more than 1,300 illnesses in a multistate outbreak.

Alicia Cronquist, an epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the pepper was purchased at a Wal-Mart store in the southwestern part of the state, likely on June 24, and the consumer became ill July 4.

Cronquist said state agency received the pepper sample July 21, and the positive test was confirmed July 28.

“It’s really important that we’ve been able to link a pepper to a specific person who has been ill,” she said. “Most people don’t remember exactly what they ate or exactly when or where they bought it.”

No grower or distributor has been identified. Cronquist said the state is working with the Food and Drug Administration to determine the origin of the product.

“This is a big priority for all of us,” she said.

FDA announced a consumer advisory July 21, warning consumers not to eat fresh jalapeños after a Mexican jalapeño in a McAllen, Texas, distribution center tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul. The agency also advised high-risk consumers — infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems — not to eat fresh serrano peppers.

FDA cleared domestic jalapeños and serrano peppers July 25.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., said in a July 28 news release that “following updated information provided by the FDA on Friday, July 25, we destroyed all Mexico-grown jalapeño peppers and returned all U.S.-grown jalapeño peppers to our shelves.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said July 28 that there are 1,304 reported illnesses in 43 states; Washington, D.C.; and Canada. There have been at least 252 hospitalizations. The most recent onset date of a reported illness is July 12.


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