Salmonella Discovery Prompts Food Recall in North Carolina

July 21, 2008

North Carolina officials announced a recall of fresh jalapeño peppers and avocados distributed in North Carolina after samples from a food distributor tested positive for salmonella.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a statement that it asked a Charlotte food distributor to recall the items it received from a Texas food supply company because of possible salmonella contamination.

The Texas supplier also has been asked to recall the specific products distributed in North Carolina.

Agriculture department spokesman Brian Long identified the Charlotte firm as El Campo Produce Inc. Long said it distributed to about 100 restaurants and a few small markets around the state in 25 counties.

The telephone at El Campo wasn’t answered July 17.

“They have been very cooperative in this whole thing,” Long said. “They have sold products to other food establishments around the state and what we’re trying to determine is whether the firm out of Texas has worked with other restaurants or distributors directly in North Carolina.”

The Food and Drug Protection Division and the state Division of Environmental Health are working to determine how many North Carolina outlets received the produce.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler emphasized in the statement that locally grown produce is not involved and that North Carolina produce may be consumed with proper handling.

Officials said there’s no immediate sign that the contamination matches the salmonella strain that has sickened 23 people in North Carolina and more than 1,200 people nationwide.

One week ago, health investigators converged on a Charlotte-area restaurant suspected of being a source of multiple salmonella illnesses. State food protection experts took 42 samples from the restaurant, including a variety of vegetables, fruits and spices.

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