Salmonella found in jalapenos

WASHINGTON Federal officials have found jalapeno peppers contaminated with the rare Salmonella Saintpaul strain blamed for one of the nation’s largest foodborne illness outbreaks.

They were grown in Mexico and distributed through a McAllen, Texas, plant named Agricola Zaragosa, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday.

The FDA still was unclear, however, about where the peppers had become contaminated with the microbial strain linked to at least 1,251 illnesses in 43 states since April.

The agency, whose investigators were in Mexico searching for a source, urged restaurants to stop serving raw jalapeno and serrano peppers to all diners, though cooked or pickled peppers are considered safe. Previously, officials had warned only old, young or immune-suppressed consumers to avoid uncooked jalapenos. Serrano peppers were cited because their similar looks make them difficult to distinguish from jalapenos.