FDA gives okay to U.S. jalapenos

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it’s okay for Americans to once again eat U.S.-grown raw jalapeno peppers, clearing the way for North Carolina growers to resume selling their peppers.

The FDA previously had warned Americans to avoid eating any raw jalapenos, regardless of where they were grown. The FDA issued the broad warning earlier after its investigation into a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illnesses found Salmonella Saintpaul on a jalapeno pepper from Mexico.

North Carolina’s Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler urged the FDA to narrow its warning, saying the agency’s “blanket statement” was harming U.S. growers who had no connection to the illnesses.

The FDA responded, saying that only Mexican-grown jalapenos are linked to the nationwide salmonella outbreak. The agency informed states of the news July 25.

“I’ve said all along that North Carolina produce was not implicated in the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, so there was no reason for people to stop eating jalapenos grown here.” Troxler said. “I’m glad that common sense prevailed and the FDA narrowed its warning.”

Troxler encouraged jalapeno shoppers to look for North Carolina-grown jalapenos and other produce in grocery stores and farmers markets across the state. “One of the easiest ways to find North Carolina produce is to look for the Got to Be NC Agriculture logo,” he said.

According to the 2002 U.S. Census of Agriculture, North Carolina farmers grow about 1,000 acres of chile peppers, a category that includes jalapenos. The state ranks eighth nationally in the production of chile peppers.

For more information about the FDA’s ongoing investigation, visit http://www.fda.gov.

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