F.D.A. updates Salmonella Montevideo investigation

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has been investigating the supply chain of black and red pepper supplied to Daniele International Inc., Pascoag, R.I., as part of the Salmonella Montevideo outbreak investigation.

Two-hundred and forty-five people have been infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Montevideo in at least 44 states and the District of Columbia, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Click here for an analysis of an epidemiologic study comparing foods eaten by individuals who were sickened identified salami/salame as a possible source of illness. 

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 here.

Some spice products are now being recalled by Mincing Overseas Spice Company, Dayton, N.J. and Wholesome Spice Company, Brooklyn, N.Y. as a result of the investigation. Both supply pepper to Daniele International Inc.

Based on recent test results, Mincing Overseas Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Company are conducting new recalls. Both Mincing Overseas Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Company sell products directly to commercial customers that may have incorporated them into their own products. The F.D.A. 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 F.D.A.’s web site for the latest company recall information.

To determine the extent to which pepper played in the Salmonella Montevideo outbreak, the F.D.A. is working with C.D.C., F.S.I.S., the state of Rhode Island and other states. 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 F.D.A. is working to determine if the type of Salmonella found in the other products also matches the outbreak strain.

F.D.A. collected samples of pepper from other customers who received product from Mincing Overseas Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Company as part of its investigation. 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 coarse ground pepper and Mincing Overseas Spice Company to recall black pepper lot 3309.

The F.D.A. is currently taking a closer look at the handling of spices from farm to table and in the spring of 2009 began work on a spice risk profile designed to capture the current state of knowledge related to an issue and identify any knowledge gaps. This risk profile focuses on microbiological contaminants and filth issues related to spices.

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