Red pepper cited as Salmonella -linked recall expands

Feb 17, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – The sausage company at the center of a widespread Salmonella outbreak has recalled another 115,000 pounds of products, this time citing red pepper instead of black pepper as the possible source of contamination.

Daniele Inc., based in Pascoag, R.I., said it is recalling 115,000 pounds of "Hot Salame Panino" product, a type of salami wrapped in mozzarella cheese and sprinkled with red pepper, produced between Nov 5 and Feb 15.

"The red pepper used on the product came from the same supplier that provided Daniele with black pepper that also tested positive for Salmonella," the company said in a statement today.

On the basis of preliminary testing, "the company believes crushed red pepper may be a possible source of Salmonella contamination," the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said yesterday. The agency said further testing is under way to determine if the product contained the Salmonella Montevideo strain associated with the outbreak.

Daniele originally recalled 1.24 million pounds of salami products on Jan 23 and added recalls of about 17,000 pounds on Jan 31 and 24,000 pounds on Feb 4. Testing by the Rhode Island Department of Health found Salmonella in some open containers of black pepper collected at Daniele's facility.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today the number of cases in the outbreak has risen to 230 in 44 states and Washington, DC, up from 225 cases on Feb 11. Among 168 patients with available information, 43 (26%) were hospitalized, but there have been no deaths. The outbreak began last July.

Daniele said the latest recall includes six different products sold under various names, all labeled with "EST. 459" inside the USDA mark of inspection. They have sell-by dates ranging from Feb 3 through May 26 and were distributed to retail stores nationwide.

The FSIS said the recall was triggered by its own discovery of Salmonella in an unopened salami product and by Daniele's testing of ingredients.

The FSIS statement said the "root cause" of the contamination has not yet been determined. Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a separate statement today, said it has not yet reached a conclusion about the cause.

"The FDA is actively investigating the supply chain of the black pepper used in the manufacturing of the recalled meat products to see if it poses a risk to consumers," the statement said. "The agency has collected and analyzed nearly 70 domestic and imported black pepper samples. All of FDA's samples have tested negative for the outbreak strain of Salmonella.

"The FDA is continuing to investigate the possibility that pepper might be responsible for this outbreak and has not yet reached any conclusion," the agency added.

Daniele did not name the supplier of the red pepper now under suspicion, but Rhode Island health officials previously said that black pepper that tested positive came from two distributors, Wholesome Spice and Mincing Overseas Spice Co.

See also:

Feb 16 FSIS statement

Feb 17 FDA update

Feb 16 CDC update

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