There has been no further word on the massive Salmonella outbreak that sparked a major recall by Daniele Inc. of salami products distributed nationally. The latest CDC update on the outbreak was on February 18, at which point the CDC had identified 233 illnesses in 44 states linked to the outbreak. But as of the date of the CDC’s last update, there remained many unanswered questions in the outbreak investigation.
To recap, Daniele Inc has recalled a total of almost 1.4 million pounds of salami products, some produced as recently as mid February. See list of recalled products. It is widely thought that both red and black pepper used during production of the recalled salami products was the original source of contamination. Daniele Inc’s pepper suppliers are two companies called Overseas Mincing Spice Company and Wholesome Spice Company. Daniele has terminated its relationship with Wholesome Spice Company and now reports that it is using irradiated pepper exclusively in its products.
But it has been nearly a week since we have received any word on the status of the outbreak, despite epidemiological evidence that contaminated products may in fact still be in consumer households. So, are people still getting sick? Are we dealing with an ongoing threat to public health? Has all potentially contaminated product been recalled? And what is the latest on the status of the investigation into the pepper, both red and black, that has been identified as the original source of contamination? Notably, neither pepper company, Overseas Spices or Wholesome Spice Company, has recalled any of its products. What is the significance of this? There are only three possibilities: (1) the true source of contaminaton was at Daniele alone, (2) the pepper companies did not sell the contaminated pepper to any other companies, and they are confident that the Daniele recall is broad enough to include all potentially contaminated pepper, or (3) the companies simply have not acted to protect public health. We would like to think, in this day and age and in this country, that the third possibility is, in fact, not possible, but events over the past several years are cause for concern. Recall that we are only one year removed from the now infamous PCA salmonella outbreak, in which Stewart Parnell knowingly sent salmonella-contaminated product on to other companies for inclusion in peanut-based products.