Cal Fresco recalls jalapeños, serranos - The Packer

Cal Fresco recalls jalapeños, serranos

12/21/2011 05:38:00 PM
Coral Beach

food safety, pepper recall, Cal Fresco, FDA, USDA, salmonella

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Dec. 22) No illnesses have been reported and the wholesaler doubts any peppers remain in the supply chain, but as a precautionary move Cal Fresco LLC has recalled jalapeño and serrano peppers due to possible salmonella contamination.

Fernando Vargas, owner and founder of Cal Fresco in Buena Park, Calif., said Dec. 21 he took immediate action when the Food and Drug Administration notified him.

“There is no overkill in this kind of situation,” Vargas said. “Within two and a half hours of being notified we had contacted all of our customers.”

Vargas said the government didn’t work quite as quickly.

“The tests were done Dec. 12, but we weren’t notified until Dec. 19,” Vargas said.

Vargas said the U.S. Department of Agriculture took random samples at two distribution centers in Washington state. Records show a retail customer took possession of the peppers Dec. 8 at the Washington distribution centers.

A portion of the same lot of jalapeños was distributed to retail stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Canada through other distribution channels from Dec. 3-5, Vargas said.

He said it was easy to do traceback on the jalapeños. Cal Fresco checked internal records for the lot number the USDA tested. The records showed what grower the peppers came from, when they were packed and where they were shipped.

About 18,500 pounds of jalapeños are covered by the recall.

The serrano peppers were initially more difficult to trace “because the USDA Sample and Isolated Pathogen Information Report failed to disclose individual lot numbers” of the tested peppers, according to a news release from Cal Fresco.

Vargas said the company’s food safety team, headed by Dave Rueda, figured out what lot the serranos were from by using internal records. Rueda said the routinely captured data allowed him to determine which lot USDA had tested.

Rueda and Vargas said Cal Fresco regularly conducts random tests on the 100 commodities it packs, as well as its packing equipment and building.

The company is cooperating with state and federal officials in the investigation into the source of the salmonella.

“We think it will be found to be an isolated incident,” Vargas said.

As of 6:45 p.m. EST Dec. 21, the FDA had not posted a notice on its website in relation to the Cal Fresco recall. The agency sent an e-mail notification of the recall notice to subscribers at about 6 a.m. Dec. 22.

Recall details:
Jalapeño peppers from lot 205610
Serrano peppers from lot 205467
The recalled peppers were shipped in bulk boxes and intended for retail sale from bulk bins.

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florida  |  December, 27, 2011 at 09:09 AM

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Nogales Az  |  December, 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM

John, any cheese & crackers with your wine? Oops! you 1st world man should be ashamed of yourself by saying this; you have no clue where this product is from. What have you got to say about the food safety illnesess from this great 1st world country that have resulted in deaths? Sad isn't it? As long as we both Mexico and the USA have trading agreements and there is a demand for produce we will keep suppliying it and you will keep eating it. This means that neither the consumer nor the supplier are going away anytime soon, get it? You are on the quicksand end of the pole. Your unfunded comment all it shows is how ill-informed you are at this point in your life, but there is still hope if you travel a little or do some R&D and find out how many US companies are investing in thrid world countries, volume of produce that is imported to this country, etc; Yes even Florida companies have vested money in Mexico. While you are at it think proactive and propose a win-win solution for these types of diseases both foreign and abroad, something that makes sense and helps the greater good regardless of where produce is from. - How about goverment speeding up the test process for starters?

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