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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella Salami Suspect Named – Wholesome Spice – Mystery Over?

Although officials from USDA, FSIS and FDA remain silent, as has Daniele Salami, both CIDRAP and Food Safety News reported Rhode Island Health Officials have named Wholesome Spice as the likely source of the Salmonella-tainted black pepper that has sickened 189 in 40 states. However, the country of origin of the black pepper is still unnamed.

Robert Roos, CIDRAP News Editor wrote in “Tests strengthen pepper link in Salmonella outbreak” and Dan Flynn, Food Safety News Editor wrote “Black Pepper Positive for Salmonella” that Annemarie Beardsworth, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Health, reported findings from the department’s tests of ground pepper from Daniele. "We got positive results for Salmonella, and the strain did match the national outbreak," she said. "The one caveat is the sample was from an opened container of ground pepper. That means it’s the probable source of the outbreak. We do have samples from closed containers that are in the process of being tested."

The fact that the sample came from a previously opened container means the pepper could have been contaminated at Daniele rather than at the facility where it was produced, she noted. "We’re pretty sure that it didn’t get contaminated at Daniele, but we need a positive sample from a closed container to be absolutely 100% sure," she added. Beardsworth said the ground pepper came from a New York firm called Wholesome Spice, a distributor that sells ground pepper only to Daniele.

So, now, where did the black pepper originate from?

  • In order for bacteria to survive, there would have had been some moisture of some kind in the black pepper prior to grinding it up. Otherwise I would think the meat would be more suspect than a dry spice.