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BREAKING 7-30-08 Salmonella Strain Located in Mexican Farm Serrano Pepper & Irrigation Water
Wednesday, Jul 30, 2008 1:07pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. From CNN (By: Tom Pace, Talk of the Town) BREAKING: SALMONELLA FOUND 3:15pm 7-30-08  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just reported the discovery of what it believes to be a source of the salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of Americans over the past few months. 

According to CNN, the FDA confirms t
he salmonella strain linked to the recent outbreak has been found in irrigation water and a serrano pepper at a Mexican farm. 

The discovery is a "key breakthrough" in the investigation, Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's director of food safety, said at a congressional hearing.

FDA investigators had been investigating a specific farm in Mexico, Acheson said, to look for signs of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.

"Two hours ago we learned that we had gotten a positive sample in both the water used for irrigation and a sample of serrano peppers from the same farm that match the outbreak strain," Acheson said.

The House hearing Wednesday had been called to look into the recent outbreak. Last week, the FDA had said only Mexican-grown raw jalapeņos and raw serrano peppers had been linked to the salmonella outbreak.

Mexican officials called those findings "premature," even as the FDA issued an advisory stating that a contaminated jalapeņo pepper originated in Mexico.  

Mexico's National Sanitation and Farm Food Quality Service director Enrique Sanchez told The Associated Press last week that Mexico sent a letter to the United States on Friday "expressing our concern and our most forceful complaint against this decision." 

According to AP reports, Sanchez said the FDA "has no scientific proof to make a decision that will harm Mexico enormously."

Earlier, the FDA announced it had discovered salmonella on a jalapeņo imported from Mexico at The Agricola Zarigosa produce distribution center in McAllen, Texas.

The FDA said traceback studies of food eaten by victims who became sick indicate the contaminated jalapeņo pepper originated in Mexico.

The agency concluded the distribution center was not the source of the outbreak because peppers from a number of clusters never passed through there, said Dr. David Acheson, the agency's director of food safety. 

To date, all traceback studies have led to Mexico and peppers grown in the United States have not been connected to the outbreak, he said.

Peppers grown in the United States have not been connected to the outbreak that has sickened more than 1,000 people since April, said FDA spokesman Michael Herndon.

Initially, tomatoes seemed the most likely source of the outbreak. The FDA told consumers to avoid certain raw tomatoes on June 7, prompting grocery chains and some restaurants nationwide to stop offering them. 

The agency subsequently lifted that ban, determining that tomatoes currently in fields and stores are safe

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