The large outbreak of Saintpaul Salmonella cases around the country was originally blamed on raw tomatoes. Investigators from the FDA and CDC have been unable to confirm that with testing of over 1,700 samples. Now they are looking into the possibility that the culprit may be another ingredient in fresh salsa.
Officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is premature to declare jalapeños the lead suspect and still list it with tomatoes, cilantro and serrano peppers as one of the common salsa ingredients under investigation. Officials have also stepped up testing of cilantro and serrano peppers, but “there is no specific ‘prime suspect,’ ” FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek said.
Over 900 people in 40 states have confirmed cases of salmonella poisoning. There may be more cases that were not reported. Salmonella causes diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pains and fever. It is rarely fatal. Jalapeños are a top suspect because they have a longer growing season than tomatoes do and a bush may be picked several times over a long period. They also have a very long shelf life when refrigerated. The FDA has not issued a warning for jalapeños, cilantro or serrano peppers.