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FDA Update on the Investigation into the Salmonella Montevideo Outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, continues to work closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and other states in the investigation of an outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo infections associated with certain Italian-style sausage products including salami/salame.

The CDC reports that 230 people have been infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Montevideo in at least 44 states and the District of Columbia. The CDC and public health officials in multiple states conducted an epidemiologic study by comparing foods eaten by 41 ill and 41 well persons. Analysis of this study identified salami/salame as a possible source of illness: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/montevideo/index.html.

Daniele International Inc. has recalled a variety of ready-to-eat Italian style meats. The recalled products, including salami and Hot Sopressata Calabrese, are regulated by the USDA-FSIS. A complete listing of all recalled products and a list of the stores that sold these products can be found at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_006_2010_Expanded_021610/index.asp.

Recent samples of black pepper collected by the Rhode Island Department of Health at Daniele International Inc. tested positive for Salmonella. One sample from an open container matched the outbreak strain.

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 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. In abundance of caution, both of Daniele International Inc.’s immediate suppliers of pepper have temporarily placed the remaining supply of black pepper in potentially affected lots on hold while FDA continues its investigation.

The recalled meat products have an extended shelf life up to one year. Therefore, recalled products may still be in grocery stores and in consumers’ homes, including in the freezer. Consumers are advised to visit the USDA-FSIS web site for a list of the recalled products and labels to make sure they do not have any of them in their homes. If they do, consumers should throw the products away immediately.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. Individuals having consumed any Italian sausage products and who may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a health professional immediately. For details on Salmonella sources, symptoms, and treatment, please refer to the Salmonella page on FoodSafety.gov: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/salmonella.html.

  • John Munsell

    This outbreak has now affected consumers in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Many other outbreaks this century have likewise covered a broad swath of America. In stark contrast, recalls & outbreaks emanating from small plants typically impact only a local, or at most, a regional geographic area. This fact mandates that we correlate outbreak data with USDA/FSIS’s desire to implement “Risk Based Inspection” (RBI).
    When the agency first introduced RBI, one of the aspects of establishing risk was based on a plant’s volume of production. The initial proposal was to place a value of two (2) on large plants, one and one-half (1 1/2) on small plants, and one (1) on very small plants. Now cogitate on that for a minute! USDA thereby suggests that the risk to the public for large plants’ contaminated meat is only twice that of contaminated meat from very small plants. There is no very small plant which markets into 22 states, and in most cases, even to 22 counties within one state. This glaring and intentional agency insulation of the biggest meat plants continues to reveal the agency’s bias in protecting the largest entities, and to place an inordinate scrutiny on the extremely small plants which have miniscule production figures, and which lack political clout and finances required to challenge unethical agency enforcement actions.
    Following public criticism of the agency’s 2:1 ratio, FSIS responded by changing the ratio to an altruistic 5:1 figure. Although this constitutes an improvement, the 5:1 ratio remains at least one galaxy away from reflecting a true & accurate comparison of production volumes of the largest plants vis-a-vis the smallest plants. I bring this up to bring to everyone’s attention the agency’s intentional bias, if RBI ever hits the front burner again. While RBI may indeed have some plausible motives, the agency’s ultimate objective will be (AGAIN) to further deregulate the largest packers, and to hyper-regulate the smallest plants out of business. Watch and see!
    And while USDA allows dozens of countries (arguably with meat inspection oversight inferior to ours) to ship their meat across America (with virtually no re-inspection at our borders), the agency still does not allow state-inspected meat plants to ship across state borders. Folks, we are witnessing an unrestricted global Free Trade fiasco which allows Melamine et al into our country, while denying state plants to ship across state borders. If Americans endorse such idiocy, we deserve whatever sicknesses we inherit.
    Just as Senator Bayh is fed up with partisan gridlock in DC, all consumers should be outraged with USDA’s blithe nonchalance in deregulating the biggest packers and opening America to a flood of inferior food, while discouraging the development of domestic food manufacturers.
    John Munsell