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FDA Inspectors Say Peppers May Be Linked to Salmonella Outbreak


U.S. government inspectors searching for the cause of a recent salmonella outbreak have a new lead. Inspectors at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have linked a Mexican grown jalepeno pepper to the outbreak that has spread through the United States and into Canada. VOA's Paul Sisco reports.

Researchers thought the initial outbreak, in April, came from tomatoes. But now they are not so sure.

Federal regulators said Monday that salmonella bacteria was found on a single Mexican grown Jalepeno pepper at this distribution facility in Texas.

The Food and Drug Administration is asking consumers to avoid fresh jalepeno peppers, and products made with them, until further notice.

Where the pepper became tainted -- on the farm, at the Texas plant, or at some stop in between -- is a mystery.

For months, authorities have been looking for the source of the outbreak that has sickened 1,200 people in North America.

FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, in June, warned consumers to avoid certain tomatoes.

"..raw red round, and red plum, and red roma tomatoes," von Eschenbach said.

That warning has been lifted.

The FDA says interviews indicate the first cases came from tomatoes. Recent cases may point to certain peppers mixed with tomatoes.

Assistant FDA Commissioner David Acheson says, "We are equally frustrated and anxious and working very hard to try and figure out this outbreak. It makes nobody happy that people are still getting sick."

Acheson says the contaminated jalepeno is an important lead in the ongoing investigation.

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