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FDA Expands Pepper Warning in Salmonella Outbreak
Date:7/31/2008

Second tainted sample found at another farm in Mexico; serrano and jalapeno peppers from that country are now suspect

THURSDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials have widened their warning on peppers from Mexico after another salmonella-tainted sample, along with tainted irrigation water, was found at a second farm.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now advises consumers to avoid all raw serrano peppers from Mexico, along with raw jalapenos from that country and all the foods that contain them, the agency announced late Wednesday night.

"Laboratory testing has confirmed that both a sample of serrano pepper and a sample of irrigation water collected by agency investigators on a farm in the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, contain Salmonella saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint as the strain of bacteria that is causing the current outbreak in the United States," the agency said in a news release.

A contaminated jalapeno pepper had been identified two weeks ago at another Mexican farm in a different part of the country, which turned the months-long search for a source of the nationwide outbreak away from fresh tomatoes.

Meanwhile, the latest victim count across the United States and Canada, as of Wednesday, stood at 1,319 , with at least 225 people requiring hospitalization, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The discovery of the contaminated serrano pepper and tainted irrigation water led Lonnie King, the chief of the CDC's center for foodborne illnesses, to tell the Associated Press on Wednesday, "We have a smoking gun, it appears."

But health officials cautioned that the investigation wasn't over and that contamination of several different types of produce was still possible.

The FDA was still analyzing samples taken from many farms in Mexico, the agency's statement said.

Mexico's Agriculture
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