Hot peppers back on store shelves |

Hot peppers back on store shelves

Jalapeño and serrano peppers are returning to Save Mart shelves – so long as they are grown, harvested and packed in the United States, store officials said.

The announcement came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday declared the American-grown peppers are not connected to an outbreak of salmonella Saintpaul starting in April that has sickened more than 1,200 people in the U.S. and Canada.

“Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, Lucky and FoodMaxx stores are resuming sales of these raw peppers, along with products made of peppers that were likewise cleared by the FDA,” Save Mart officials said Friday.

As the investigation into the outbreak continues, federal officials continue to warn against eating raw jalapeño and serrano peppers grown in Mexico.

Earlier, federal officials had cautioned against eating peppers, tomatoes and cilantro as they sought the source of the outbreak, but American-grown produce now has been cleared.

In addition, “commercially canned, pickled and cooked jalapeño peppers from any and all geographic locations … are not connected with the current salmonella Saintpaul outbreak,” the FDA said.

During the week, investigators discovered a jalapeño contaminated with the tough bacteria at the Agricola Zaragoza produce-distribution center in McAllen, Texas, a busy commercial port of entry from Mexico.

But on Friday, federal officials said the McAllen center “was not the original source of the contamination.”

“The FDA is continuing to advise that people in high-risk populations, such as elderly persons, infants and people with impaired immune systems, avoid eating raw serrano peppers from Mexico or food made from raw serrano peppers from Mexico until further notice.” the federal agency said.

Serrano peppers are much slimmer than jalapeños, and both turn red when fully ripe.

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