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Peppers recalled because of possible salmonella
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Agricola Zaragoza, Inc. of McAllen, Texas, is recalling jalapeno peppers distributed in Georgia and Texas since June 30, 2008, because they could be contaminated with Salmonella Saintpaul, the strain FDA says is responsible for the current outbreak, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin notified consumers.

“What we know at this time is that the peppers were shipped in 35-lb. plastic crates and 50-lb. bags. Commercial manufacturers could have used them as an ingredient in other products, and restaurants and retail stores could have used them as a garnish or as an ingredient in a product prepared on site,” Irvin said. “No brand name or label was on either the crates or the bags.”

Irvin pointed out that consumers should ask their suppliers where their peppers came from. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (956) 631-6405.

“We grow several varieties of sweet and hot peppers here in Georgia,” he said. “Some of our tomato farmers also grow peppers.  No Georgia peppers were implicated in this recall, but to assure the consuming public that Georgia grown peppers are safe, I have instructed our Consumer Protection staff to test some jalapeno peppers from Georgia fields.

“Even though Georgia grown tomatoes were declared safe from the beginning of the outbreak, the public stopped buying tomatoes and the growers had tomatoes ruin in the field. We don’t want to see that happen to Georgia grown peppers,” he said.

“Our inspectors will be looking for the recalled jalapeno peppers when they visit retail and wholesale food establishments. The peppers and any products in which they were used should be disposed of to avoid any human or animal consumption,” he said.

Salmonella is a foodborne illness that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

FDA, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the company are continuing their investigation to find the source of the problem.

State also recalls tuna salad
Irvin also announced that state Department of Agriculture food scientists have found Salmonella in a sample of “Deli Fresh” tuna salad manufactured by Allison’s Gourmet Kitchens, LTD, of Moore, Okla.

The contamination was found in a 12-ounce package marked USE BY 07/29/08 B1.

“We have notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of today’s lab findings, and we are warning the public about the contamination,” said Irvin.

“We discovered this contamination as part of our sampling program. Sampling on a regular basis with a scientific protocol is a very important part of our department’s food safety program.”

Georgia Department of Agriculture sanitarians will be looking for this tuna salad during their inspections of grocery stores and food warehouses throughout the state to make sure it has been removed from sale. The sample that tested positive was collected from an Ingle’s store.  ngle’s has already removed the tuna salad from its shelves. It is uncertain what other stores may carry this brand.