Friday, March 30, 2012


We presently have an ongoing recall of ready-to-eat salsa and also a recall of jalapeno peppers in the U.S. What the news releases by the FDA have not said is that these two recalls are most likely connected. In other words, the cause of the recent salsa contamination by Salmonella bacteria is probably the jalapeno peppers that were used to make it. That would not be unusual since about half the time or more, it is one of the fresh ingredients in salsa that causes the dish to be contaminated.

So here are the facts released by the FDA. Club Chef, a processor of fresh cut products based in Covington, Kentucky has had to issue a wide, multi-state recall of its salsa products because of contamination by Salmonella bacteria (see previous post).

Now we also have a recall of certain jalapeno peppers by Castellini Company LLC from its Wilder, Kentucky facility because they also have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. These products were sold in full case, 1/2 case, 20lb, 10lb, 5lb, 2lb, and 1lb package sizes and distributed during the period March 8, 2012 through March 20 2012 (that is, probably just before this batch of salsa products were made), to military commissaries, retailers and foodservice distributors within ten states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

What the recall notice has not said (I had to look up the company website) is that Club Chef, is the Castellini Group fresh cut processing division, operating out of 200,000 sq ft state-of-the-art facility in Kentucky. It provides over 600 fresh cut items to foodservice and retail customers - one of which is various kinds of salsa, packaged under several labels.

This could well be leading to one of those serial recalls. For instance, what other product originating at the Castellini Group facility in Kentucky contained the same batch of jalapeno peppers? Its Guacamole kit? The Fajita mix? Something else? Hopefully none of the equipment used for slicing and cutting became contaminated so that other raw products (such as tomatoes, onions, peppers and so on were also affected. But then then there is the question of what other ready-to-eat foods have been made by client companies which received those Salmonella-contaminated jalapeno peppers.

Bottom line: I don't think this is the end of the jalapeno-related food product recalls. Right now you may want to avoid any ready-to-eat foods containing jalapeno peppers, and avoid eating any (restaurant or home-made) fresh salsa or guacamole made with jalapenos, even if you live elsewhere. Let's wait and see if the recall expands.

To your good health,


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