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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia plans to challenge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) call for all jalapeño peppers to be taken off store shelves because of concerns that they are the source of the current salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 1,200 people in 47 states.

State Department of Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said yesterday that he has sent inspectors to collect jalapeño pepper samples from the Georgia farms that produce them, and if the results show that they are salmonella-free, he will ask supermarkets to put Georgia jalapeño peppers back on store shelves.

"I don't want to be too harsh on Food and Drug, but we think that they're overreacting," Irvin tells the paper.

FDA said that all raw jalapeño peppers and Serrano peppers should be pulled from shelves and discarded, regardless of origin, after it found a single contaminated pepper that came from Mexico in a Texas distribution center.

FDA has not yet responded to the challenge from Georgia.

Results from the Georgia testing are expected to be available by Monday at the latest.

KC's View:
There seems to be such rampant dissatisfaction with FDA these days that it seems completely reasonable that companies and state governments may start challenging them.

However, there may be more than enough blame to go around. Interesting piece carried in the Washington Post this morning suggesting that as stories about foodborne illnesses continue to make headlines, some of the fault may be directly attributed to the food industry.

“The industry pressured the Bush administration years ago to limit the paperwork companies would have to keep to help U.S. health investigators quickly trace produce that sickens consumers, according to interviews and government reports reviewed by The Associated Press.

“The White House also killed a plan to require the industry to maintain electronic tracking records that could be reviewed easily during a crisis to search for an outbreak's source. Companies complained the proposals were too burdensome and costly, and warned they could disrupt the availability of consumers' favorite foods.

“The apparent but unintended consequences of the lobbying success: a paper record-keeping system that has slowed investigators, with estimated business losses of $250 million.”