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Breaking News on Food Safety & Quality Control

Canadian and US officials issue pepper Salmonella warnings

By Mark Astley , 22-Dec-2011

US and Canadian food safety authorities have issued separate warnings on a brand of jalapeno and Serrano peppers potentially contaminated with Salmonella.

The peppers, which were distributed by California-based wholesaler Cal Fresco, are the subject of a recall in the US and a product warning in Canada, after random USDA samples of the product were found to contain potentially-deadly contaminant Salmonella.

The company is working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and public health authorities in order to coordinate a recall of the products.

Two separate alerts in relation to the peppers have also been issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Authority (CFIA).

The peppers, which were distributed to retail stores across several US states and Canada, originated in Mexico, the FDA alert said.

Both authorities confirmed that there have been no reports of illness associated with the consumption of the peppers.

Unknown source

“The source of the contamination is unknown,” said the FDA statement.

“The recall was the result of a random sampling event on December 12, 2011 by the USDA which revealed the presence of Salmonella on some of the product.”

Using its recall and traceability program, the company quickly identified the supplier of the affected product, added the alert.

The US recalls are limited to one batch of Serrano peppers and another batch of around 18,500 pounds of jalapenos.

“Cal Fresco has ceased the distribution of all produce from this supplier while the FDA, the California Department of Public Health, and the company continue their investigation into the source if the contamination.”

In Canada, an extended alert from the Canadian Food Inspection Authority (CFIA) has urged consumers not to eat the peppers in question.

The products, which were imported from the US, were sold at Safeway stores in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon between 5 and 20 December.

“The importer, Canada Safeway Ltd, Calgary, Alberta, is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace,” said the CFIA alert.

“The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall,” the authority added.

Jalapeno outbreak

The CFIA has warned that food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled.

Consuming food contaminated with these bacteria can lead to potentially-lethal foodborne illness salmonellosis.

A 2008 Salmonella outbreak, which was eventually traced-back to jalapenos grown in Mexico, infected around 1,500 people across the US, and killed two.

The FDA came in for heavy criticism during the outbreak after it incorrectly-linked the nationwide outbreak to tomatoes.

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