The Food and Drug Administration says fresh jalapeño and serrano peppers grown in the US are safe to eat. The agency issued a communication via the United Fresh Produce Association advising retailers and restaurants that domestically grown peppers are not linked to the recent outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul.
The FDA also confirmed that the tainted jalapeño peppers distributed by Agricola Zaragoza in McAllen, Texas, were grown in Mexico, and that the contamination did not originate at the wholesaler's facility. The agency said it could not yet narrow its consumer advisory to a specific producer or any specific region of the country, but is working to do so.
Meanwhile, a Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill seeking compensation for US tomato growers for losses stemming from the outbreak. US Rep. Tim Mahoney has asked the USDA to release US$100m in federal disaster assistance to help growers unable to market their crop after the FDA’s health advisory linking certain tomato varieties to the recent illnesses.
“The FDA’s warnings about tomatoes devastated the US$1.3bn tomato industry,” he said. “We need to ensure that all impacted tomato growers and packers are compensated for their losses to protect domestic food production.”
Congress is due to hold three hearings this week on the issue and the House Agriculture Committee plans a hearing in Florida on the outbreak in September.