The US Food and Drug Administration has linked the nationwide outbreak of salmonella to a jalapeño pepper grown in Mexico contaminated with the rare Stpaul strain of the disease.

The contaminated pepper was discovered at Agricola Zaragoza, a small distributor based in McAllen, Texas.

In a USDA release, Agricola Zaragoza said it was recalling the jalapeños, which were distributed to customers in Texas and Georgia.

The company, which declined to comment further when contacted by just-food, said in the statement that the peppers were shipped to Georgia and Texas in 35-pound plastic crates and 50-pound bags without labels or brand names.

A spokesperson for the FDA told just-food that it remained unclear where the contamination occurred. "The pepper could have been contaminated on the farm in Mexico or somewhere further down the supply chain," the food regulator said.

The FDA has already dispatched investigators to Mexico, the spokesperson added.

The outbreak of the salmonella Stpaul strain has made 1,251 people sick across 43 states, Washington DC and Canada, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said. To date, 229 people have been hospitalised and the last case was reported on 4 July. The outbreak is considered ongoing, the health agency added.

It remains unclear whether Agricola Zaragoza could be the source of the entire outbreak.

The Texas firm also distributes tomatillos, a small, green, husked tomato-like fruit.

The outbreak was originally linked to tomatoes. However, last week the FDA lifted its warning on tomatoes on the basis that any contaminated produce would have spoiled by now.