Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Pepper Sickens 235, Spreads to 44 States

The <"">Salmonella outbreak linked to pepper-coated salami, has spread to 44 states and the District of Columbia, and has sickened 225, said the Washington Post. It seems, added the Post, that black pepper used to make the sausages involved could be to blame. Of those sickened, some 26 percent have required hospitalization.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) classified the recall as Class I, which means that this is a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

On January 10, Daniele International recalled 1.2 million pounds of ready-to-eat salami; that recall was expanded to include another 23,754 pounds of salami products on February 4, said the Post. The initial recall occurred after the health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked reports of illness to Daniele International sausage products, said the Post.

More than half of the victims are male, the oldest is 93 years old, and the median age is 39, said the Post. To date, no deaths have been reported. Of note, pointed out the Post, this is second time in less than one year that Salmonella has been connected to pepper. In March 2009, Union International Food of California was found to be responsible for a rash of Salmonella illnesses linked to its black and white pepper.

The current recall includes a variety of sausage products packaged under Daniele, Boar’s Head, and Black Bear of the Black Woods brands, said the Post that were sold through national chains such as Costco and Wal-mart and online through, said the Post. Because the one-year shelf life, federal health officials are worried the products can be stored and forgotten; the outbreak began in July, said the Post.

Testing, said the Associated Press (AP), traced the Salmonella pathogen to ground pepper in closed containers at Daniele that were intended for use to coat salami, said Annemarie Beardsworth, a spokeswomen with the health department.

Salmonella infections can be life threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of Salmonellosis—the food borne illness caused by contamination Salmonella—are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting for up to seven days. Salmonellosis can lead to arterial infections (infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis. Some bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.

Mincing Oversees Spice and Wholesome Spices supplied pepper to Daniele and samples from both distributors tested positive for Salmonella, said the Washington Post, citing state health officials. While the USDA is responsible for the regulation of Salami, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees black pepper and food additives, said the Post. A joint investigation by both agencies continues. Daniele issued a statement saying it changed spice suppliers and will now use irradiated pepper, which goes through a process meant to kill bacteria, said the Post.

We recently reported that, according to the SunTimes, a Chicago man filed a lawsuit against Daniele International and Mincing Overseas Trading Company claiming he was sick for “almost a month” after coming in contact with Salmonella-tainted pepper used in a salami product. Another family filed a lawsuit against Daniele International last month claiming a three-month-old boy fell ill after eating its pepper-coated salami, said the SunTimes.

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