As part of the Salmonella Montevideo investigation, the Food and Drug Administration has been actively investigating the supply chain of black and red pepper supplied to Daniele International Inc., Pascoag, R.I.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 245 people have been infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Montevideo in at least 44 states and the District of Columbia. Analysis of an epidemiologic study comparing foods eaten by individuals who were sickened identified salami/salame as a possible source of illness: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/montevideo/index.html.

Daniele International Inc. recalled a variety of ready-to-eat Italian-style meats after Salmonella was associated with its products. A complete listing of the recalled products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, can be found at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_006_2010_Products/index.asp.

As a result of the investigation, a number of spice products are now being recalled by Mincing Overseas Spice Company, Dayton, N.J.; and Wholesome Spice Company, Brooklyn, N.Y. Both supply pepper to Daniele International Inc. Based on recent test results, Mincing Overseas Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Company are conducting new recalls.

Products Recalled by Mincing Overseas Spice Company

A.  Black Pepper Lot 3258 in 50-pound, 25-pound, and 20-pound cartons with Mincing Overseas Spice Company’s name on the outside
B.  Black Pepper Lot 3309 in 50-pound, 25-pound, and 20-pound cartons with Mincing Overseas

Products Recalled by Wholesome Spice Company

A.  Ground Red Pepper sold to Daniele International Inc.
B.  Whole Black Pepper sold to Daniele International Inc.
C.  Crushed Red Pepper sold from April 6, 2009, to Jan. 20, 2010 in 25-pound boxes (Recalled on Feb. 25.)

Both Mincing Overseas Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Company sell products directly to commercial customers, who may have incorporated them into their own products. The FDA is working with the suppliers to identify the customers who received the recalled product and determine if further recalls are necessary. Consumers are encouraged to frequently check FDA’s website for the latest company recall information.

The FDA is working with CDC, USDA-FSIS, the state of Rhode Island and other states to determine the extent to which pepper played in the Salmonella Montevideo outbreak. The Agency has collected 153 composite pepper samples, which represent more than 3,600 subsamples, at various locations in the supply chain. Samples from four products collected at Daniele International Inc. tested positive for Salmonella. Samples of crushed red pepper have tested positive for the outbreak strain; the FDA is working to determine if the type of Salmonella found in the other products also matches the outbreak strain.

As part of FDA’s investigation, the Agency collected samples of pepper from other customers who received product from Mincing Overseas Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Company. Thus far, two of the samples collected have tested positive for types of Salmonella not associated with the current national Salmonella Montevideo outbreak. These findings prompted Heartland Foods Inc. to recall course ground pepper and Mincing Overseas Spice Company to recall black pepper lot 3309.

  • John Munsell

    This scenario provides an exclamation point !!! to the need for Tracebacks to the SOURCE of contamination. The apparent cause of this outbreak is black and red pepper, which was contaminated with Salmonella. Such outbreaks will continue, until the point in the pepper supply chain is determined where the contamination occurred, and require meaningful corrective actions at the source. Probably the primary obstacle in determining the true SOURCE is USDA/FSIS, which historically has thwarted tracebacks to the SOURCE. Fortunately, USDA is conducting a public hearing on Tracebacks this coming Wednesday, March 10 in Washington, DC. This agency admission that it must improve traceback protocol comes a full twelve years after the largest plants implemented HACCP. This unnecessary delay indicates that meaningful agency changes to Traceback protocol will be easier said than done. Instead of being the country’s “Premier Public Health Agency”, USDA/FSIS policies have been designed to insulate the source plants from accountability, forwarding all liability downstream to destination facilities, imperiling public health. Agency actions the remainder of this year will reveal if it has truly experienced a metamorphosis in this pathogen arena. John Munsell