CDC and FDA officials spoke to reporters Thursday and indicated the salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 1,440 people appears to be over.
However, due in part to the problems with the nation's food safety system, the agencies indicated the ultimate source of the outbreak may never be known.
According to the AP, the CDC said the outbreak began in late April, and that by early August the number of new cases had fallen to levels that would be considered normal.
Initially tomatoes were suspected as the source of the outbreak. Later, there was strong evidence to implicate jalapeño and serrano peppers, and a farm in Mexico, where a pepper and water sample tested positive.
Because the number of salmonella cases has returned to what is considered a normal amount, and because there haven't been any new restaurant clusters, the FDA also lifted its warning that consumers avoid eating jalapeño and serrano peppers from Mexico.
But, the article says, officials indicated there are no guarantees about future outbreaks. Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's food safety chief, said: "None of us can provide a cast-iron guarantee that salmonella Saintpaul will not re-emerge. We have not identified the total source of this."
Many, such as nutrition expert and The Daily Green blogger Marion Nestle, have argued that the food safety system needs an overhaul. FDA and CDC officials said a number of steps are needed to improve the safety of fresh produce, including standard procedures and more funding to allow state laboratories to test samples of suspected pathogens more rapidly; congressional action to give the FDA authority to impose produce safety regulations; and industry action to develop a faster system for tracing back to the farm any produce items suspected in an outbreak.
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