Red pepper recalled in Salmonella outbreak

Feb 26, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – A company that supplied crushed red pepper to a Rhode Island sausage maker at the center of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak has recalled 10 months' worth of production after two samples of the product were found to be contaminated.

Wholesome Spice, a wholesale distributor in Brooklyn, N.Y., is recalling 25-pound boxes of red pepper sold between Apr 6, 2009, and Jan 20, 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported yesterday. The products were distributed to commercial customers in the Northeast and not sold in retail stores, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported.

Samples from two lots of red pepper that Daniele Inc., the sausage company, had bought from Wholesome Spice tested positive for Salmonella, the FDA said. The agency said it is working to determine if the Salmonella in the pepper matches the outbreak strain of Salmonella Montevideo.

The FDA also said it is working with Wholesome Spice to find the source of the contamination, identify customers who received the recalled product, and determine if further recalls are necessary.

Rhode Island officials said the test results show the contamination came from outside Daniele's facilities.

"Test results of Daniele employees and of the physical plant indicated that an outside source of Salmonella was likely," Rhode Island Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH, said in a press release. "The recall confirms that the source of the Salmonella was from outside of Daniele's manufacturing plants."

Daniele officials reported last week that they had found evidence of Salmonella in red pepper the firm used in its products, but the FDA did not confirm similar findings until yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest update on the outbreak said the case count has reached 238, with cases in 44 states and Washington, DC. The outbreak began in July 2009.

Daniele, based in Pascoag, R.I., initially recalled 1.24 million pounds of pepper-coated salami on Jan 23 after epidemiologic studies implicated the products as the cause of the outbreak. On Jan 28 Rhode Island officials reported finding Salmonella in two open containers of black pepper that Daniele had bought from Wholesome Spice, and on Feb 3 state officials reported finding Salmonella in black pepper that Daniele had received from another distributor, Mincing Overseas Spice Co.

Daniele announced additional but much smaller product recalls on Jan 31, Feb 4, and Feb 16—the last after suspicion fell on red pepper as a contamination source.

See also:

Feb 25 FDA release

Feb 25 Rhode Island press release

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