The Food & Drug Administration's top food safety official reported today that federal investigators have identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella saintpaul in irrigation water on a farm in Mexico. FDA also found a positive sample of the outbreak strain on a Serrano pepper. Dr. David Acheson, FDA assistant commissioner for food protection, made the announcement while testifying this afternoon before the House agriculture subcommittee on food traceability. FDA immediately issued another warning to consumers not to eat fresh Serrano peppers.
The announcement came as both Acheson and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention food safety expert Dr. Lonnie King came under fire for their handling of the latest salmonella outbreak, which made more than 1,300 people sick nationwide and resulted in 255 hospitalizations. Two deaths may be associated with the outbreak, King testified.
Two bills that have been introduced to provide comprehensive federal food traceability standards were aired by their sponsors during the hearing.
Rep. Adam Lutnam, R-Fla., testified that the bill he and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., introduced would strengthen the collaboration between state agencies and the federal government and seeks expertise from the industry on how its supply chains "work in the real world." Rep. Dianne DeGette, D-Colo., a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said her bill would have the federal government set technical standards for food traceability that would make the systems used by state and federal agencies "interoperable."