New salmonella case confirmed

Source of Article:


4-state outbreak - A Washington County woman tests positive for the bacteria related to ground pepper

Thursday, April 09, 2009


The Oregonian Staff

Amid a flurry of food recalls, Oregon officials said Wednesday they have confirmed a new case of salmonella infection related to an ongoing outbreak associated with ground pepper.

The latest case is a woman in Washington County, said William Keene, senior epidemiologist with the state Public Health Division.

County health authorities have left several messages on her voice mail but have not been able to reach her yet, he said.

She tested positive for the same rare strain of the bacteria -- Salmonella Rissen -- that is implicated in a four-state outbreak related to ground pepper, he said.

"Normally there are only three or four cases a year in the whole United States," Keene said.

So far, 49 people have been sickened, with 39 in California, five in Oregon, four in Nevada and one in Washington state.

The pepper was imported from Vietnam and ground and packaged by Union International Food Co. in Union City, Calif., in the Bay Area. Contamination usually results from contact with animal feces, either in a field or factory.

Union International mainly sold to Asian restaurants or distributors that sell to Asian restaurants.

Although ground white pepper is considered to be the main culprit, both white and black pepper distributed by Union International Food that ended up in an Asian restaurant in Portland tested positive for Salmonella Rissen, Keene said. There have been other positive tests linked to the company's white pepper, including at a casino restaurant in Reno.

Union International Food has recalled its white and black pepper along with about a dozen other spices over fears of cross-contamination at the company's Bay Area facility.

Keene said suspect spices ended up at dozens of restaurants from Umatilla County to the Oregon coast and southern Oregon to Portland area.

"It's not everywhere, but it's widespread," Keene said.

County health officials have authority for inspecting restaurants.

On Tuesday, EDS Wrap and Roll Foods in Hayward, Calif., recalled frozen vegetable and chicken egg rolls made with suspect black pepper between July 28, 2008, and March 27, 2009.

Managing Director Brian Ho said EDS mainly supplied distributors and restaurants in California.

He emphasized that the egg rolls had to be cooked, which can kill the bacteria, and that no illnesses have been associated with them.



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