A Food and Drug Administration investigation of a salmonella Montevideo outbreak that led to the recall of ready-to-eat Italian-style meats earlier this year has expanded to black and red pepper. The FDA is now actively investigating the supply chain of black and red pepper supplied to Daniele International Inc., Pascoag, R.I.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 249 people have been infected with a matching strain of salmonella Montevideo in at least 44 states and the District of Columbia. Analysis of an epidemiologic study comparing foods eaten by individuals who were sickened identified salami/salame as a possible source of illness.
 
As a result of the investigation, a number of spice products are now being recalled by Mincing Overseas Spice Co., Dayton, N.J., and Wholesome Spice Co. of Brooklyn, N.Y. Both supply pepper to Daniele International Inc. Mincing Overseas Spice Co. and Wholesome Spice Co. sell products directly to commercial customers, who may have incorporated them into their own products.
 
Restaurateurs, foodservice operators and consumers should not use the products being recalled by either of these companies.
 
Products Recalled by Mincing Overseas Spice Co.
  • Black Pepper Lot 3258 in 50-pound, 25-pound, and 20-pound cartons with Mincing Overseas Spice Company's name on the outside
  • Black Pepper Lot 3309 in 50-pound, 25-pound, and 20-pound cartons with Mincing Overseas Spice Company's name on the outside.
Products Recalled by Wholesome Spice Co.
  • Ground Red Pepper sold to Daniele International Inc.
  • Whole Black Pepper sold to Daniele International Inc.
  • Crushed Red Pepper sold from April 6, 2009, to Jan. 20, 2010 in 25-pound boxes
To date, two of Mincing Overseas Spice Co.'s distributors, Dutch Valley Food Distributors Inc. and Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, have announced voluntary recalls of potentially contaminated product.
 
Industry implications
 
The FDA is in the process of taking a closer look at the handling of spices from farm to table and in the spring of 2009 began work on a spice risk profile. A risk profile is designed to capture the current state of knowledge related to an issue and identify any knowledge gaps. This particular risk profile focuses on microbiological contaminants and filth issues related to spices.
 
Some members of the spice industry have already agreed to provide data to the FDA for the risk profile. The risk profile will provide vital information to risk management decision-makers and will help the agency determine the best way to mitigate foodborne illness issues associated with spices. Specifically it can help FDA determine how to allocate resources, whether guidance for industry or for FDA inspectors is appropriate, or even the need for new rulemaking.
 
Congress has legislation pending that would require the foodservice industry to treat raw spices to avoid contamination. The House passed the bill last year, and the Senate is expected to take it up next month. The consideration of the bill seems particularly timely as the industry also is in the midst of a recall of a number of products containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
 
So. Cal. white sesame seeds recall
 
In other news, white sesame seeds are subject of a separate recall. Spice Industrial Group Inc. of City of Industry, Calif., is recalling Lian How White Sesame Seeds supplied by Specialty Commodities Corp. and distributed to retail markets, restaurants and wholesalers in Southern California from Nov. 6 to Dec. 11, 2009. The seeds have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.
 
Spice Industrial Group Inc. was notified of this contamination by its supplier, Specialty Commodities Corp. To date no illnesses have been reported to Spice Industrial Group Inc. The affected Lian How White Sesame Seeds were packaged in 5-pound white plastic bags with Specialty Commodities Corp. labels.

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