Health officials are investigating
the source of the SalmonellaSaintpaul outbreak. While tomatoes were the No.
1 suspect when the outbreak began, the FDA announced on July 17,
2008, that all tomatoes -- from every source -- are safe to eat.
The FDA advises
consumers to avoid raw jalapeno and serrano peppers -- and foods that contains
them -- from Mexico until further notice.
Peppers grown the
in U.S. are no longer on the FDA's warning list. Commercially canned,
pickled, and cooked jalapeno and serrano peppers from any and all locations are
fine to eat and aren't linked to the salmonella outbreak.
Here are 14 questions and answers about salmonella, symptoms of salmonella
infection, and how to avoid salmonella.
Salmonella are bacteria that can live in the intestinal tracts of humans and
other animals. There are many strains of salmonella; the tomato outbreak
involves an uncommon strain called Salmonella Saintpaul.
Anyone can get salmonella. Most cases aren't severe. Serious and potentially
fatal cases are more likely in young children, frail or elderly people, and
people with weak immune systems. Those cases can happen when salmonella
infection spreads from the intestines to the blood and other parts of the
For the latest news on the number
of cases in the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, visit the CDC's web site.
Will rinsing fruits and vegetables get rid of salmonella?
fruits and vegetables probably won't get rid of salmonella, according to
the FDA. In general, it's important to handle foods safely. That generally
means rinsing raw, whole fruits and vegetables under running water and, if you
choose, scrubbing them with a small vegetable brush to remove surface dirt. It
also means that when you cook foods, you cook them thoroughly.
What if I wash fruits and vegetables with a detergent, too?
The FDA doesn't recommend using any kind of detergent to wash fresh produce,
because "it is not yet known if their residues are harmful to humans," states
the FDA's web site.
Does cooking kill salmonella?
Thorough cooking can kill salmonella. But when health officials warn people
not to eat potentially contaminated food, or when a food is recalled because of
salmonella risk, that means don't eat that food, cooked or not, rinsed or not.
The stakes are too high.
Besides tomatoes and peppers, what other foods may contain salmonella?
Any raw food of animal origin -- such as meat, poultry, milk and dairy
products, eggs, and seafood -- and some fruits and vegetables may carry
salmonella bacteria, states the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection web site,
adding that salmonella bacteria can contaminate other foods that come in
contact with raw meat and poultry. That's why thorough cooking and cleanliness
are so important in the kitchen.