It seems that I am far too often penning Supply Chain Matters postings related to product contamination and supply chain risk.  I sometimes get asked why so many postings relate to this topic.  The short answer is that the occurrences of incidents are just growing and growing, and implications to food related and other regulated supply chain are rather troubling. They also point to a continuing trend that outbreaks of food contamination are not being traced in a timely manner.

The latest highly visible incident involves the voluntary recall of over one million pounds of ready-to-eat varieties of Italian sausage products involving Daniele International Inc. of Pascoag and Mapelville Rhode Island.  The brands involved are rather noteworthy for their image of quality, and include Boar’s Head, Black Bear and Dietz & Watson brands. The recalled products may be contaminated with Salmonella. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Center for Disease Control are jointly conducting an investigation regarding the source of the outbreak. To date, 189 persons across 40 U.S. states have been identified as being infected with illness, with incidents being tracked thus far back to July of 2009  A dedicated web site has been established by the CDC to provide public information regarding this recall.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the FDA has become involved because of an ongoing investigation of a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo illnesses, which have thus far been traced to Daniele.  The Montevideo strain is noted as a somewhat common strain of salmonella infection, and is the same strain found in the 2009 incident involved in the pistachio nut recall.  It is however different from the Typhimuriam strain involved in the peanut butter paste recall that occurred roughly one year ago.

According to a public statement  provided by Danielle International, the potential culprit may be the cracked pepper utilized to coat the meat products.  The manufacturer notes that it has switched suppliers and will now use irradiated pepper, which is pepper that is treated with high doses of radiation to kill deadly bacteria.  While government officials have not completely pointed to that conclusion, this development should be of concern to all other food manufactures who utilize cracked pepper in their products.

This ongoing incident could have the same implications as found in the past peanut paste and pistachio nut recall incidents, the fact that the incidents of contamination impact the supply chains of other manufacturers or food providers who are utilizing cracked pepper product.  

Supply Chain Matters issues similar caution, if you have not already, immediately start checking the sources of your cracked pepper supplies, along with their use. Traceability of products is a rather important need at this juncture.

Unlike the ongoing product recall incident concerning Toyota vehicles, Danielle is demonstrating a rather positive outreach with public communication.  An open letter from the President of Sales  of this family operated business notes the concern to resolve this issue in the quickest and safest manner.  We applaud Danielle for this proactive outreach.

Food-related supply chain professionals need to remain focused on insuring that all aspects of the supply chain are constantly audited for ingredient safety and traceability.

 Bob Ferrari