(Aug. 1, 2:48 p.m.) Domestically grown jalapeño peppers appear to be a hot item.

Prices for jalapeños grown in the U.S. spiked after the Food and Drug Administration cleared domestic jalapeños and serrano peppers July 25 in its investigation of a Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak. FDA, which initially issued a warning July 21, altered the advisory four days later when the focus of the probe shift to Mexican product — which it confirmed July 30 during a congressional hearing.

“All our customers are putting them back on the shelves,” said Randy Bailey, president of Bailey Farms, Oxford, N.C.

Bailey said July 29 that 1 1/9 bushels of jalapeños were $18-20, up from $14-16 before the FDA’s July 21 advisory.

Bailey, however, cautioned that the price spike could be short-lived. He said many retailers and foodservice companies dumped hot peppers after the FDA advisory and are restocking domestic product.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., said in a July 28 news release that the company “destroyed all Mexico-grown jalapeño peppers and returned all U.S.-grown jalapeño peppers to our shelves.”

Ron McCormick, Wal-Mart's vice president and divisional merchandise manager for produce and floral, could not be reached for comment.

Bailey said that with Mexican product under scrutiny Bailey Farms is getting new business from West Coast customers that typically source from Mexico.

“Next week it will be interesting to see what return sales are like,” he said July 29. “We just have to wait and see how this affects consumer demand.”

FDA announced July 30 that samples of irrigation water and serrano peppers taken from a farm in Mexico’s Tamaulipas state tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul. A pepper sampled in a McAllen, Texas, warehouse tested positive July 21. That pepper was traced back to the state of Nuevo Leon.

David Acheson, FDA’s associate commissioner for foods, said the two farms are about three hours apart.

“The fact that FDA appears to be narrowing its focus is heartening to importers,” said John McClung, president of the Texas Produce Association, Mission.

McClung said he hopes FDA will limit its advisory to product from those two states and clear other states that have not been implicated.

Elsewhere, Jesse Driskill, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz., expressed optimism that markets for hot peppers and tomatoes — which were implicated early in the outbreak — will be normal by the time his members start importing those commodities again in November or December.

“I don’t think there will be noticeable, lingering fallout,” said Driskill, who attended congressional hearings looking at traceability and food safety in the produce industry July 30-31. “People that like jalapeños really like them. What we’re seeing is that people are continuing to buy them.”