Officials Focus on Jalapeno Peppers

After causing more than $100 million in losses for the tomato industry, now it turns out that quite probably it wasn’t the tomatoes after all.

July 5 [Bloomberg] — U.S. officials have turned their focus to jalapeno peppers as the possible source of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened about 1,000 people since April 10, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the investigation.

Initial attention was paid to tomatoes, though the spread of the disease shifted the focus to other foods, the newspaper said. In addition to jalapenos, cilantro and Serrano peppers are being looked at, the Journal said.

Lola Russell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declined to confirm or deny that jalapeno peppers are the prime suspect in the spread of salmonella, which can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, the newspaper said.

The agency is focusing on 29 “clusters” of people sickened by the feces-borne bacteria mostly at Mexican food restaurants, the newspaper said. The cluster is formed by two or more people becoming sick within 10 days after dining at the same restaurant, the Journal said.

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