Mexico Says Pepper Farm Tests Negative for Salmonella (Update2)
By Andres R. Martinez
Source of Article:http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=aQmVNEJI.L0g&refer=news
Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico's government said its tests of serrano peppers and water from a farm the U.S. identified as infected with
salmonella showed no signs of the bacteria.
Samples from the farm in the northern
border state of Tamaulipas tested negative for the Saintpaul
strain of salmonella that has sickened more than 1,300 people in the U.S. since April, said Enrique
Sanchez Cruz, head of Mexico's
agriculture and food safety agency.
Similar tests by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration at the same farm last month detected salmonella in a sample of
peppers and water used for irrigation, according to the agency. ``We stand by
our test results,'' FDA spokesman Michael
Herndon said in an e-mail.
U.S. officials have been trying to pinpoint
the source of the outbreak that sickened people in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, and initially focused on
tomatoes in their investigation. At least 262 people have been hospitalized,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlantasays.
Salmonella, a bacterium transmitted
through animal feces that come in contact with food, can cause diarrhea, fever
Sanchez said last month in an interview
that the samples U.S.
officials said tested positive for salmonella came from a plot of land that had
been harvested more than a month ago and water that wasn't used for irrigation.
U.S. officials are still waiting for results
from samples taken from a separate jalapeno pepper farm. Sanchez said Mexico's tests
showed no signs of contamination at either farm.
``The next step is for our laboratory to
sit down and compare samples and test results with the'' U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, Sanchez said.
Acheson, the FDA's associate commissioner for foods, urged consumers not to
eat serrano peppers from Mexico during a congressional
hearing on July 30.
U.S. investigators haven't ruled out
tomatoes as the source of the illness, though the FDA has said the infected
food didn't come from farms in Mexico's
as originally claimed by Acheson in testimony.
Mexico produced 2.2 million metric tons of
peppers in 2007 and exported 14 percent to the U.S. Mexico ships about 12,000
tons of jalapeno and serrano to the U.S. a year.