The San Diego-based produce distributor that recalled Mexican cucumbers linked to the multi-state Salmonella Poona outbreak is busy trying to find the source of the problem. Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, a family-owned farming, packing and shipping operation, announced the recall of its Limited Edition brand cucumbers on Sept. 4 and has since embarked on a “thorough evaluation” of its related operations. As of Sept. 8, the outbreak had sickened 341 of people from 30 states and hospitalized 70 of them, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two deaths, one in California and one in Texas, have been reported. Mexican cucumbers in boxIn a statement A&W posted on its website Thursday, Sept. 10, the company noted that it was “doing everything possible to learn if we are responsible and how this could have happened.” As part of that effort, A&W is evaluating control processes and “completely scrubbing and cleaning” its cucumber farming and packing operation in Baja California, Mexico. That facility, Rancho Don Juanito, was shut down at the same time the recall was announced, said Dave Murray, an A&W partner. “As soon as we learned that our products may be implicated in this illness, we voluntarily ran this recall and simultaneously shut down operations at both that field location and the packing shed location in question,” he told Food Safety News. Murray said while A&W notified all of its customers who directly received the cucumbers, the food supply chain is complicated, as indicated by secondary recalls announced by Safeway and others whose products may contain the Mexican cucumbers. “There’s always a possibility that a customer could have received cucumbers from a third party. That’s why we advise everyone to throw out any cucumbers they have,” he said. Cucumbers are not a large component of A&W’s product line, Murray said, adding that berries and tomatoes loom much larger in the company’s overall lineup. A&W is now working with federal and state authorities to try and figure out whether something in its operations could have been the source of the Salmonella. Murray said that means they will be evaluating “absolutely everything.” “I don’t think we can leave any stone unturned given the fact that the health and safety of our consumers is the absolute priority of every business decision that we make,” he said. Murray said that many people don’t understand that much of the produce in U.S. grocery stores today comes from Mexico, but that doesn’t mean that the imported food items are any less safe. “For A&W, we made a commitment a long time ago that anybody — you, a customer, me, any of our consumers — could walk into any of our Mexican operations and compare that to one in California and wouldn’t be able to see the difference. I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico, and I can tell you that we’ve achieved that,” he said. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)