Remember last year’s epic recall of salmonella-tainted peanuts? The number of food manufacturers added to the recall list grew to more than a thousand over the following weeks because, it turned out, they were all buying goobers from Peanut Corporation of America.
Well, it may be happening again, but this time with red pepper.
Food safety cops from three federal agencies and the state of Rhode Island say they have linked salmonella-infected, Italian-style sausage and salami to a crushed red pepper sold by Wholesome Spice, a Brooklyn, N.Y., wholesale distributor.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 238 people in 44 states and Washington, D.C., have been sickened by the pathogen Salmonella Montevideo, which reportedly contaminated meat products made, packaged and sold by Daniele International Inc.
The poison-food specialists said that public health officials in multiple states and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta compared foods eaten by 41 ill people to another 41 with no sign of illness. This mini-epidemiological study identified Daniele meats as a possible source of illness and the pepper–both black and red–as the host of the salmonella.
The Rhode Island producer, whose meats are sold under different brand names, has recalled about 1.5 million pounds of Italian-style sausage along with different types of ready-to-eat, pepper-coated meats.
But now, the CDC says the spice merchant is trying to recall 25-pound boxes of crushed red pepper it sold from April to last month due to possible Salmonella contamination.
The company has not said how much of the crushed red pepper was sold, but the 25-pound bulk packages, which were sold throughout the Northeast U.S., are often repackaged by others into consumer-size portions for home use or, like the peanuts, added to an unknown number of other commercially sold food products.
Late last month, Rhode Island officials reported finding Salmonella in two open containers of black pepper that Daniele had bought from Wholesome Spice. Two weeks later, officials found the pathogen in another load of black pepper but said this was purchased from a Chinese distributor.