Before we declare this mystery solved, there are several questions remaining to be answered:
- Is the Salmonella Saintpaul that was found on the jalapeño pepper identical to the outbreak strain?
- Where did the contamination originate – on the farm in Mexico, at the produce distributor, or somewhere in between?
- Is there any connection between the contaminated jalapeño and tomatoes?
- Does the distribution pattern of the jalapeño peppers correlate with the geographic distribution pattern of lab-confirmed outbreak cases?
- What other produce does the McAllen distributor handle, and is there any chance that these other produce items might become contaminated through cross-contamination at the distributor?
- Are any of these peppers still available for sale in retail stores?
- Are any of these peppers still in the food service distribution network or in restaurant kitchens?