The Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is working closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and other states in the investigation of an outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo infection associated with certain salami products.
The CDC reports that 202 people have been infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Montevideo in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia. Recently, the CDC and public health officials in multiple states conducted an epidemiologic study by comparing foods eaten by 41 ill and 41 well persons. Preliminary analysis of this study has suggested pepper-coated salami as a possible source of illness: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/montevideo/index.html.
On Jan. 23, 2010, Daniele International Inc. recalled ready-to-eat varieties of Italian sausage products, including salami, which is regulated by the USDA: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_006_2010_Release/index.asp. The recalled meat products have an extended shelf life up to one year. Consumers are advised to check the USDA list of the recalled products to make sure they do not have any of them in their homes. If so, discard them immediately in a safe manner.
Recent test results provided by the Rhode Island Department of Health revealed that an opened container of black pepper used at the salami manufacturing facility of at least some of the recalled products were positive for Salmonella Montevideo and that the DNA fingerprint matched the outbreak strain: http://www.ri.gov/press/view/10647.
The FDA is actively investigating the supply chain of the black pepper used in the manufacturing of the recalled meat products to see if it poses a risk to consumers. The agency has collected and is currently analyzing black pepper samples. To date, all the samples collected and analyzed by the FDA have tested negative for Salmonella; however, sample collection and analysis continues.
If FDA identifies risks associated with the black pepper, or any other product, we will take appropriate action to protect the public health.
Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections ( infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. Individuals having consumed any Italian sausage products and who may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a health professional immediately. For details on salmonella sources, symptoms, and treatment, please refer to the Salmonella page on FoodSafety.gov.: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/salmonella.html.