Salmonella found in Thai basil from Mexico

GARDEN GROVE Calif. Thai basil that may be contaminated with salmonella is being recalled from Southern California, Arizona and Nevada by importer Lucky Green Trading Inc. here, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday. The FDA, which detected the organism during random testing, said it is not the rare Saintpaul strain of salmonella that has sickened at least 1,065 people nationwide.

That outbreak, which government officials have described as the largest food-borne contamination in a decade, is still being linked by health officials to raw Roma, plum and red round tomatoes and fresh jalapeno peppers, and possibly fresh cilantro and serrano peppers.

The basil, depicted on the FDA's website as having been packed in the town of Santa Rosa Tapachula on Mexico's west-central coast, was distributed to retailers and by direct delivery to customers on June 30. It was shipped in 14-pound cardboard cartons containing 12 unmarked plastic bags, each weighing about 1.2 pounds. No illnesses linked to the basil had been reported as of Friday, the FDA said.

Though federal investigators have stepped up their scrutiny of fresh produce from Mexico since salmonella infections have spread to 42 states since mid-April, Mexican agriculture officials on Friday declared the country's tomato crop free of salmonella contamination. "Scientific evidence" supported that claim after a two-week probe conducted in conjunction with the FDA, press reports quoted Mexico's agriculture ministry as stating.