A salmonella outbreak affecting people in 42 states has been linked to the ground black pepper used by a Rhode Island meat-curing company, according to Annemarie Beardsworth, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Last week, tests on pepper samples taken from the plant found the same strain of salmonella associated with the national outbreak, Beardsworth said.
Daniele Inc., a company based in Pascoag, R.I., sells to retailers throughout the country, including leading stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Daniele Inc. voluntarily recalled 1.2 million pounds of pepper-coated salami on Jan. 23. This Sunday, the company added 17,000 pounds of Italian sausage products to the recall list, according to an FSIS news release.
The expanded recall followed positive salmonella test results in a cured-salami product in Illinois, Beardsworth said. The recall included three other food items, also pepper-coated, that are not distributed in Rhode Island, she said.
The salmonella outbreak started on July 4, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. As of Feb. 2, the CDC had confirmed 207 cases of the infection, including two in Rhode Island. The infected individuals range from infants to 93-year-olds, and no deaths have been reported.
Though the pepper samples tested positive for salmonella, the state health department is in the process of determining if the pathogen originated at the meat company or a New York-based spice distributor, Beardsworth said. Daniele Inc. bought the pepper from Brooklyn's Wholesome Spice, which bought it from an importer, Beardsworth said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in the process of tracing back the supply train, she said.
"The company's goal right now is to take prudent, proactive measures to do everything possible to remove any products that do not meet our high standards for quality and taste," Daniele wrote in a statement on its Web site last week.