(July 7, 11:09 a.m.) The Food and Drug Administration has stepped up testing of domestic and imported product in its search for the cause of an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul.

However, FDA spokesman Michael Herndon on July 7 denied a CNN report that Mexican produce imports used to make fresh salsa were banned at the border.

While no ban is in place, John McClung, president of the Texas Produce Association, Mission, said such testing can stall product at the border for up to a week while shippers wait for it to be cleared.

It was unclear how long FDA testing in this matter will take, and Herndon and other public health officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Outbreak search spreads

The outbreak initially was linked to roma and round, red tomatoes in early June, but a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said July 3 that the probe had been expanded to include other items found in fresh salsa.

“This business about throwing everything else under the bus is infuriating,” McClung said. “I understand their responsibility to public health, but they’ve cast doubt on onions, cilantro and peppers.”

Hundreds get sick

The CDC reported July 7 that the outbreak has caused 971 reported illnesses in 40 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada. Three of the four Canadian victims traveled to the U.S. before becoming ill, the CDC said.

At least 189 people have been hospitalized in the outbreak, and onset dates range from April 10 to June 26.