Yesterday, Canada’s food safety regulatory agency, CFIA, warned consumers not to eat certain jalapeno peppers sold primarily in bulk and unlabeled, out of fears of Salmonella contamination. The peppers were from Cal Fresco, a California company, which had also distributed the peppers to retail establishments in California, Oregon, Washington, and Texas. Cal Fresco recalled the peppers yesterday as well. See details of Cal Fresco jalapeno pepper recall.
Yesterday evening, the Packer had an article on Cal Fresco’s recall, which contains some food for thought.
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. He said that within two and a half hours of receiving notice from the FDA of positive test results, he had contacted all of his customers who received the peppers.
Vargas said he was frustrated the government didn’t work as quickly.
He said the tests were done Dec. 12, but he wasn’t notified until Dec. 19.
[Further], 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.
[Finally] As of 6:45 p.m. eastern time on 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 alert on the recall notice to subscribers at about 6 a.m. Dec. 22.
That’s a total of 9 days since the original positive test for Salmonella before the contaminated peppers were recalled. Cal Fresco, based on known information, is certainly not to blame for the delay, as it can only act on the information that it has. Indeed, the free flow of information is the only currency for public health.