(UPDATED COVERAGE, March 23) World Variety Produce Inc. recalled serrano peppers that could be contaminated with salmonella, but five days after the recall, no illnesses had been reported.
Los Angeles-based World Variety, which ships under the Melissaâs brand, recalled 300 cases of peppers sold between March 1 and March 18, said Robert Schueller, the companyâs public relations director.
The company, which has stopped production and distribution of the affected products, issued the recall notice March 18. It is World Varietyâs first-ever recall, Schueller said.
The recall was the result of routine U.S. Department of Agriculture testing that found one positive salmonella sample, Schueller said.
Of the 300 cases, 273 were distributed to Wal-Mart stores in Wisconsin, Montana, Utah and Wyoming and 27 to Jewel-Osco stores in Illinois, he said.
As a precaution, both Wal-Mart and Jewel-Osco removed all of their serranos from shelves, even product that didnât come from World Variety, Schueller said.
An internal test by World Variety of other lots of serrano peppers shipped from the same region did not turn up any salmonella, Schueller said.
Pending a Food and Drug Administration investigation of the cause and source of the contamination, World Variety has stopped sourcing all peppers grown in the region where the affected serranos came from, he said.
As of March 23, the FDA did not know where the contaminated product came from, said Sebastian Cianci, an agency spokesman.
Serrano peppers from Mexicoâs Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon states tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul in 2008, contributing to an outbreak that sickened more than 1,000 people.
The contaminated serranos shipped by Melissaâs did not come from Tamaulipas or Nuevo Leon, Schueller said. He would not say what region they came from.
âI donât want to throw any other produce companies under the bus,â Schueller said, explaining World Varietyâs decision not to reveal the region.