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Vietnam: Pepper Not Contaminated

Vietnam is not about to accept blame for the nationwide Salmonella Montevideo outbreak in the United States.

Do Ha Nam, chairman of Vietnam Pepper Association, says the Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. is probably due to “mistakes in the process by food producers.”

The outbreak is associated with Italian-style sausage products including salami produced by Rhode Island-based Daniele Inc.  Pepper was used to coat some of the ready-to-eat meat products.

Recent samples of black pepper collected by the Rhode Island Department of Health at Daniele International Inc. tested positive for Salmonella. One sample from an open container matched the outbreak strain.  The remaining supply of pepper testing positive for Salmonella has been voluntarily placed on hold by both of Daniele’s suppliers.

Those pepper suppliers are Mincing Oversees Spice and Wholesome Spice.  Both are believed to have imported fresh ground pepper from Vietnam.

As of last weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta said there were 213 people infected with the Montevideo strain in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

It’s possible another Salmonella strain, Senftenberg, might be linked to Daniele’s meats.   The company has recalled 1.3 million pounds.

At least one state health department–California–has confirmed another strain may be involved.

In an update Monday, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it is actively investigating the supply chain of the black pepper used in the manufacturing of the recalled meat products to see if it poses a risk to consumers.

The agency has collected and is currently analyzing both domestic and imported black pepper samples. To date, all the samples collected and analyzed by the FDA have tested negative for Salmonella; however, testing continues.

Vietnam is where the fresh pepper supply chain begins.  According to the Vietnam Pepper Association,  the U.S. market accounts for about half the 135,000 tons it exports annually.  It says its highest quality pepper is bound for the U.S.

FDA says if it identifies a public health risk associated with black pepper, or any other product, the Agency will take the appropriate action necessary to protect the public’s health.

The recalled meat products have an extended shelf life up to one year. Therefore, recalled products may still be in grocery stores and in consumers’ homes, including in the freezer.  Consumers are advised to visit the USDA-FSIS web site for a list of the recalled products and labels to make sure they do not have any of them in their homes. If they do, consumers should throw the products away immediately.  

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Otherwise healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Individuals having consumed any Italian sausage products and who may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a health professional immediately.

© Food Safety News
  • jmunsell

    The above statement emanating from the Chairman of the Vietnam Pepper Association that our current outbreak is not the result of Salmonella-laced black peppers but instead is probably due to “mistakes in the process by food producers” are identical to what USDA/FSIS make when the agency detects Salmonella or E.coli 0157:H7 at downstream further processing grinding plants. First of all, it is imperative that we understand that both Salmonella and E.coli are “Enteric” bacteria, which means that they originate from within animal intestines. By extension, enteric bacteria also proliferate on manure-covered hides. The vast majority of downstream further processing plants have NO intestines or manure-covered hides on their premises. Therefore, when such plants detect enteric bacteria in their products, we know that the vast majority of such enteric bacteria arrived at these plants in meat which had been previously contaminated at their source slaughter provider plants.
    How about pepper? Having never seen pepper grown or processed, I have not the least scintilla of advice to reveal how the enteric Salmonella bacteria entered the food chain. My first question is whether the pepper plants had ever been exposed to animal manure/fertilizer. Someone has said that if an investigation is made to determine the true SOURCE of enteric bacteria contamination, we will eventually bump into a cow. With this in mind, let’s trace back and see how the black pepper industry could possibly bump into a cow.
    John Munsell

  • Mike Edgar

    My guess is the the source of contamination came from 1. birds in the processing facility 2. The company water source.
    I would love to see the inspection reports for the facility, water sources and growing operations. Just a hunch but I bet none exist.

  • John Munsell

    The above statement emanating from the Chairman of the Vietnam Pepper Association that our current outbreak is not the result of Salmonella-laced black peppers but instead is probably due to “mistakes in the process by food producers” are identical to what USDA/FSIS make when the agency detects Salmonella or E.coli 0157:H7 at downstream further processing grinding plants. First of all, it is imperative that we understand that both Salmonella and E.coli are “Enteric” bacteria, which means that they originate from within animal intestines. By extension, enteric bacteria also proliferate on manure-covered hides. The vast majority of downstream further processing plants have NO intestines or manure-covered hides on their premises. Therefore, when such plants detect enteric bacteria in their products, we know that the vast majority of such enteric bacteria arrived at these plants in meat which had been previously contaminated at their source slaughter provider plants.
    How about pepper? Having never seen pepper grown or processed, I have not the least scintilla of advice to reveal how the enteric Salmonella bacteria entered the food chain. My first question is whether the pepper plants had ever been exposed to animal manure/fertilizer. Someone has said that if an investigation is made to determine the true SOURCE of enteric bacteria contamination, we will eventually bump into a cow. With this in mind, let’s trace back and see how the black pepper industry could possibly bump into a cow.
    John Munsell

  • vietnam does not export “ground pepper”
    l

  • Michael

    Also, there is no “domestic source” of black pepper. All black pepper consumed in the US is imported-mostly from India and Indonesia but also from Vietnam and Brazil. I have had personal experience with Mincing, and the quality of their products was always very high; and there was never any issues with micro’s being out of spec.
    However black pepper is notorious with cleanliness issues as well as micro’s being extremely high. It almost always needs to be pre treated with ETO to lower the plate counts to acceptable levels.
    The one thing that would eliminate this type of situation all together is irradiation-which would essentially eliminate the possibility of salmonella, E Coli or any other bacteria contamination. But since the wacko’s think if you eat irradiated food you’ll glow in the dark-pushing through any effective change in this area of the food industry will be difficult at best and more probably impossible.
    So we’re left to wonder “what if” when something like this breaks out, and “if only” when thinking about solutions.

  • spiceman

    A limited number of vietnamese companies do export ground pepper indeed.

  • FoodConsumer

    How silly it is to think that people are afraid of glowing in the dark after eating irradiated foods. Here are some real concerns:
    Cats were paralyzed from eating irradiated cat food.
    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/02/vietnam-says-its-pepper-is-not-contaminated/
    I suppose Michael thinks that won’t happen to people just like the ‘experts’ said that BSE would not infect humans after it was found infecting cats?
    Dogs got Fanconi syndrome from irradiated food.
    http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=13936
    I suppose Michael thinks humans won’t, even though humans do get Fanconi syndrome from too much lysine in the diet, and irradiation increases available lysine in some foods while decreasing the the availability of other amino acids.
    Other types of heat treatments NEVER paralyzed cats or gave dogs kidney disease. Irradiation is different and not even animals with highly developed senses of smell can perceive how dangerous irradiated food is. They are at least warned of food that is rancid or toxic from other causes.

  • FoodConsumer

    The first reference regarding the cats paralyzed by irradiated food should be this one:
    http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=13088