The FDA indicates that tainted black pepper may be the cause of a recent salmonella outbreak that resulted in a salami recall last month. The agency made the tentative announcement as the first salmonella food poisoning lawsuits over the peppered salami were filed against the manufacturer, Daniele International, Inc.
More than 200 people in 42 states, and the District of Columbia, have fallen ill as the result of a strain of salmonella known as Salmonella Montevideo, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say is likely connected to recalled salami produced by Daniele International.
On Friday, the FDA indicated that Rhode Island Department of Health inspectors discovered an open container of black pepper at the salami manufacturing facility that was contaminated with a strain of salmonella that genetically matched the strain making people sick nationwide.
A pepper-crusted salami recall was issued on January 23 for approximately 1.24 million pounds of salami/salame and other Italian sausage products. The recalled salami was sold at Costco and other national retailers under the Daniele, Black Bear, Dietz & Watson and Boars Head labels.
At least two food poisoning lawsuits have already been filed against Daniele International over sicknesses caused by the tainted salami. The first lawsuit was filed on January 28 on behalf of an Illinois family who says that a three-month-old infant was hospitalized due to salmonella food poisoning from salami at Costco. According to a recent blog post by the law firm Marler Clark, a second salami recall lawsuit was to be filed today by a Missouri man who was hospitalized on January 23 for severe gastrointestinal illness after purchasing contaminated salami at a Walmart store.
On Monday, Daniele International expanded their salmonella recall by 17,235 pounds after Illinois inspectors found contamination in more unopened packages. The additional recalled items include Daniele Hot Sopressata Calabrese, Daniele Spressata Calabrese and Boar’s Head Brand Hot Sopressata Calabrese. All of the recalled meat has an establishment number of “EST 54” inside the USDA mark of inspection and weigh between 3 and 3.5 pounds.
The FDA is currently examining the contaminated black pepper found by Rhode Island inspectors and its supply chain. The agency says it will alert the public if it finds any risks associated with the black pepper. However, the agency says that so far tests for salmonella on other black pepper samples have come back negative.
Salmonella poisoning can cause symptoms such as abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and fever. While symptoms tend to resolve within a few days or weeks for most healthy adults, the elderly, young children and those with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to severe, and potentially life-threatening, infections.