CBNNews.com - Inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration have what they consider a new clue in the salmonella outbreak after finding a jalapeno pepper with the same illness-causing bacteria.
Now FDA officials are warning consumers to avoid eating fresh jalapeno peppers or products made with them until further notice.
Authorities caution that this isn't the end of their investigation. They are still looking for how the pepper became tainted in the first place.
"This genetic match is a very important break in the case," said Dr. David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration's food safety chief.
The salmonella on the pepper "is an important clue but the investigation is far from complete," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the consumer advocacy Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The McAllen, Texas processing plant that shipped the pepper has agreed to recall all its jalapenos. The FDA found no further traces of salmonella in the food that's currently being processed at the plant.
Bracing for Economic Hit
The pepper industry is now bracing itself for an economic hit like the one that struck the tomato industry earlier this year.
Government officials say that they have evidence linking raw tomatoes to earlier causes of the outbreak. However, officials say tomatoes currently in stores are still safe to eat.
"There may be more than one vehicle here," Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
"The tomato cases are not exonerated," Acheson added.
The outbreak has so far caused illnesses in 1,251 people according to a count by The Associated Press.
Source: The Associated Press