Salmonella in Mexican-grown basil

From Bloomberg News

Salmonella, the bacterium that has sickened more than 1,000 Americans who ate tainted produce since April, has also been found in Thai basil grown in Mexico.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified salmonella during random testing of basil imported by Lucky Green Trading Inc., a family-run company based in Garden Grove, the agency said Friday. The product has been recalled from Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, where it was distributed directly and sold in retail stores.

FDA officials have boosted inspections of Mexican exports as they look for the origin of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that has spread to 42 states since mid-April. Although the focus has been on certain types of tomatoes grown in Mexico and Florida, officials said this week that jalapenos caused some illnesses and serrano peppers and cilantro also were under investigation.

“Every importer from Mexico has to go through the inspection,” said Tony Ton, whose family runs Lucky Green. “That’s a new thing. Every year, we used to have one or two occasions where FDA has to do a random inspection.”

No illnesses have been linked to Lucky Green’s herbs. The firm’s Thai basil comes from the town of Santa Rosa Tapachula in Nayarit, a state on the west-central coast of Mexico. It sells no other products this time of the year, Ton said.


Three shipments of Thai basil from the same Mexican grower passed inspection last week, so Lucky Green is checking on whether the latest batch was contaminated by another grower in the same area, Ton said.