Today Daniele, Inc. announced that tests have confirmed the presence of salmonella in the black pepper that the company used to coat the salami product that has been implicated in a massive national salmonella outbreak. The outbreak, which has sickened at least 189 people in 40 states, involves multiple strains of Salmonella bacteria. Today’s announcement confirms what Daniele, Inc. seems to have suspected since announcing the recall back on January 23, 2010.

But the announcement also leaves some major questions unanswered, like who was the supplier of the contaminated pepper?  FSIS, FDA, and CDC have not acted promptly enough in informing the public about the circumstances of this outbreak and recall, so Daniele, Inc. should take the initiative in the name of public health and tell the public who supplied it with contaminated pepper. At this point, for all we know, the pepper could be in the homes of many people across the country.

Also, outbreaks linked to pepper are by no means a new phenomenon. In August 2008 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Pak National Foods Limited warned the public not to consume the National Black Pepper Powder because the product may have been contaminated with Salmonella. The product had been distributed in Alberta and British Columbia. The importer, Pak National Foods Limited, Richmond, British Columbia, voluntarily recalled the affected product from the marketplace.

In March 2009, a Northern California company recalled two product lines: "Uncle Chen" white and black peppers and "Lian How" dry spices, after health officials identified Lian How-brand white pepper as the culprit in a recent Salmonella outbreak. At least 42 people had fallen sick in the four-month outbreak. Three other states besides Washington have were also involved in the outbreak: California, Nevada and Oregon.

And in August 2009 Adams Extract and Spice announced a voluntary recall of products because they had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The products contained a specific lot of ground red pepper supplied by Van de Vries Spice Corporation. This lot of ground red pepper initially tested negative for Salmonella. Subsequently, Adams Extract and Spice was informed that another sample drawn from the same lot was confirmed positive for Salmonella.