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U.S. Peppers Get the Okay

Break out the pico de gallo and chips! The FDA is advising consumers that raw jalapeño and Serrano peppers grown in the United States ARE NOT connected with the current Salmonella St. Paul outbreak and consumers can eat them without concern of contamination. So we are back in business offering ONLY U.S. grown jalapeño and Serrano peppers. In our prepared foods, we are using U.S. raw jalapeño and Serrano peppers or canned, pickled or cooked varieties, which have been okay all along – only raw peppers were of concern. We remain in contact with our producers and are studying all government updates to stay on top of this issue. --- July 22, 2008 In the latest report from the FDA on the Salmonella outbreak, they are alerting consumers that the outbreak now appears to be linked to the consumption of raw jalapeño peppers and foods that contain them. So, we are voluntarily withdrawing raw jalapeño peppers from our produce departments until further notice. The FDA is keeping the advisory active for people with impaired immune systems to avoid eating raw Serrano peppers. As we reported last week, tomatoes of all kinds are in the clear. In our prepared foods departments, we are voluntarily withdrawing prepared foods that were made with raw jalapeño and raw Serrano peppers. We are working to makeover these recipes, where possible, with other peppers. As always, we remain in contact with our producers and are studying all government updates to stay on top of this issue. Tomatoes Get the All Clear The FDA has removed their tomato warning and is now saying that consumers may enjoy all types of fresh tomatoes. No, they haven’t determined the cause of the salmonella outbreak. Rather the FDA is saying that it is very unlikely that the batches of tomatoes originally associated with the outbreak are still in the food-supply chain. So they say all tomatoes — including plum, Roma and round – are okay to eat. And don’t forget that the advisory for the elderly, infants and people with impaired immune systems to avoid eating raw jalapeños and Serrano peppers is still in effect. --- Tomato Concerns Expand to Peppers Remember the salmonella issue with tomatoes that started a few weeks ago? Well now the FDA and CDC are extending their investigation to raw jalapeño peppers and raw serrano peppers. They are not issuing a recall, but they are recommending at this point that the elderly, infants and people with impaired immune systems avoid eating raw jalapeño peppers and raw Serrano peppers. We are posting signs in our stores to that effect, but we aren’t removing these peppers from our produce areas or prepared foods departments. All of their previous guidance on tomatoes continues as well. We’re studying all government updates to stay on top of this issue, and we are in constant contact with our producers. Go here for all the scoop directly from the FDA. Heads Up on Tomato Removal ****Update 6/23/08**** The FDA provided an update on Friday saying that they have “been able to trace the pathway of some tomatoes from the point of purchase (e.g. supermarket) or consumption (e.g. restaurant) to each point on the distribution chain down to certain farms in Mexico and Florida.” They are working to narrow the investigation and sent teams of experts to Mexico and Florida over the weekend. Remember though, that some Florida counties as well as Mexican states have already been cleared. Check out the FDA update for more information. ****Update 6/16/08**** The FDA added the Mexican State of Baja California (Baja Norte) to the list of areas not associated with the outbreak. ****Update 6/13/08**** The FDA continues to release new information and and provide further guidance about the salmonella outbreak. For example, they suggest that consumers do not cook suspect tomatoes to kill the bacterium, but avoid the affected types of tomatoes altogether. We are staying up to date with all of the FDA's guidance and doing our best to make sure the tomatoes we offer in our stores are acceptable according to their findings. If you want to keep yourself informed, this FDA FAQ clearly shows where information has been updated. They've also added Alaska, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and some specific counties in Florida (see complete list) to the states "ruled out" as a growing region source of this outbreak. ***UPDATE 06/12/2008*** Heads up: tomatoes grown in Massachusetts, Utah, Virginia and Washington have been added to the list of states cleared of association with salmonella. For the latest, check out the FDA Alert. https://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html ***UPDATE 06/05/2008*** The FDA announced last night they have determined that tomatoes from the following locations are not associated with the outbreak: California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands and Puerto Rico. Whole Foods Market will provide tomatoes to our customers from these growing regions. ---- The Center for Disease Control announced this week that an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning in nine states has been linked to uncooked tomatoes. So far, the CDC has not provided information as to the source or origination of the outbreak and they are not currently mandating a recall. Even so, Whole Foods Market has decided that, as a precautionary measure, we are voluntarily withdrawing Roma, Plum and red round slicer tomatoes from our produce and prepared foods departments in all of our stores until further notice. Since CDC officials don’t know the source yet, it’s impossible to know specifically which growers are affected so we're taking extra precaution until we know more. This doesn’t affect cherry tomatoes or tomatoes with the vine attached. Just ask a produce team member if you aren’t sure about which tomatoes are affected. If you’ve purchased withdrawn tomatoes from us recently, you can return then to our stores for a full refund. Our experts will continue to follow this investigation very closely and are currently reaching out to our tomato vendors for more information. You can also check out the CDC info.