The Tremeloes got it wrong. Silence is far from golden when it comes to matters of public health. We now know that the salami Salmonella outbreak linked to Daniele Inc.’s pepper-coated salami occurred because of contaminated pepper, and that the pepper came from a company called (oh the irony) Wholesome Spice, a New York distributor. But there remain too many questions with regard to this outbreak, not to mention other significant public health matters (see "the silence of the steaks and the perjury of the peppers"), to say that consumer health is being adequately monitored and protected.
Wholesome Spice is merely a distributor, meaning that the company did not grow, harvest, or package the contaminated pepper. We do not yet know where the contamination occurred, but odds are that it happened prior to receipt of the product by Wholesome Spice. The implications are clear. Wholesome Spice may have only received a portion of the contaminated product. This is certainly something that the CDC and FDA have considered and are likely looking into. The significance of this fact to public health? Contaminated pepper may be in the homes of American consumers in other forms, and on other products.
It is possible, also, that there is no further threat to consumer health in America. Wholesome Spice may be the only American company to receive the contaminated pepper, and Daniele Inc may be the only company to have purchased and sold the contaminated pepper to consumers. But that doesn’t sound very logical. Is Wholesome Spice the exclusive seller of pepper to Daniele Inc., or vice versa? Isn’t it more logical to assume that the contaminated pepper has reached American consumers in other forms?
The flow of information to the public in this particular outbreak and recall has not exactly been unimpeded, timely, or free. Recall the CDC’s statement to the public late on the friday evening that the outbreak and recall was announced: "A widely distributed contaminated food product might cause illnesses across the United States." In fact, the CDC commented in the same statement on the outbreak that other products may be implicated.
So we know the distributor of the pepper, but we don’t know what country it came from or the identity of the company who grew, harvested, or packaged it. We don’t know whether other American food companies received the contaminated pepper, not to mention other companies worldwide, whose residents are just as susceptiblle to illness and death from Salmonella as we are. We don’t know whether other products are contaminated, and there has been no further word from the CDC on the issue, despite the obvious wide-spread contamination and the early suspicion about whether other products were implicated. Nor do we even have any official statement on what other strains of Salmonella the CDC, or other State health departments, have found in the contaminated Daniele salami products. Recall the CDC’s statement on this issue:
This recall followed isolation of Salmonella in a private laboratory from a retail sample of a salami product produced by Daniele International. FSIS reviewed and affirmed these private laboratory results. This Salmonella strain is different from the strains causing the outbreak. In addition, this product was different than the sliced salami variety pack purchased at different grocery store locations by the 11 ill persons.
We have the right to know these things.