US Salmonella outbreak linked to spices

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 11th March 2010

An outbreak of Salmonella in the United States has been linked to salami products containing contaminated spice products.

Ready-to-eat Italian style meats, produced by Daniele International Inc, were identified as a possible source of the salmonella outbreak, which has affected at least 245 people across 44 states and the District of Columbia. The salami is believed to have been contaminated by spice products, with crushed red pepper supplied to Daniele by the Wholesome Spice Company testing positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella. Spices from the Mincing Overseas Spice Company are also under investigation.

The FDA also found unrelated strains of Salmonella in batches of red and black pepper supplied by the two spice companies to other customers, sparking a chain of product recalls across the US.

This is the second product contamination by Salmonella this week, with supplies of hydrolysed vegetable protein (HPV), manufactured by Basic Food Flavors Inc, testing positive to the bacteria. No cases are yet associated with the contaminated HPV.

The FDA is in the process of compiling a ‘risk profile’ on spices, to consolidate knowledge on the handling and processing of spices. The profile will focus on microbiological contaminants and filth issues related to spices. Some members of the spice industry have already agreed to provide data to FDA for the risk profile.

The FDA expects that this risk profile will provide vital information to risk management decision-makers and will help them determine the best way mitigate food-borne illness issues associated with spices.

Salmonella is one of the most serious food-borne illnesses, capable of causing serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.