A voluntary recall of fresh jalapeno peppers by Thomas Produce Co., Boca Raton, Fla., may have been due to a false alarm.
“All of product has been accounted for to my knowledge,” said Rick Wilson, director of compliance for Thomas Produce. “There has been not one report of illness.”
The company sold 320 cartons of the whole, green peppers Feb. 15-18 to seven distributors in Florida, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Wilson said. Affixed to each carton was a 2.5-inch by 1-inch label with the lot code, 1054811HJBT.
Testing of five samples by the Food and Drug Administration at about the time of the sales resulted in a positive finding in one of the samples for the presence of salmonella, Wilson said. However, the FDA did not notify Thomas Produce until March 18, he said, and did not alert the news media until the end of March.
Thomas Produce issued the recall immediately upon being notified by the FDA of the test results, Wilson said.
“These peppers have a shelf life of two weeks to three weeks,” he said.
Thomas Produce also began weekly testing, and “everything has been negative,” Wilson said.
Samples are shipped to a lab on Mondays and the results are returned within three days, he said.
Wilson said he could not explain the delay between the FDA’s testing and the agency’s notifying Thomas Produce.
"Where is that safety net?” he asked. “Where is that agency that’s out there to protect the public’s interests?”
Telephone calls to the FDA were not immediately returned.