Red pepper flakes are the source of the Salmonella outbreak

By Shayna Barbash

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Be careful when using red pepper flakes because the FDA believes they are the source of the recent Salmonella outbreak. Photo courtesy of projectdisaster.com.

Pizza lovers beware.  All those addicted to crushed red pepper flakes as a pizza topping must sacrifice that much needed flavor kick. As of March 2, 245 individuals infected with the strain Salmonella Montevideo have been reported in 44 states within the U.S.

The FDA believes the outbreak originated from crushed red pepper flakes sold from April 6, 2009 to Jan. 20, 2010.  However, a full list of products recalled within the last week can be found online at this link..   The FDA recalled specific brands of crushed red pepper flakes Feb. 25.

This outbreak is especially concerning because the source of the red pepper flakes is ambiguous.  The flakes allegedly thought to be the source of this outbreak weren’t sold directly to any consumer or retailer.

Thus, individuals should take caution in dealing with the outbreak.  It may seem tempting to sprinkle your pizza with those much desired tasty pepper flakes, but the result will bring much more than a delicious pizza.  The outbreak has yet to cause any deaths, but has infected individuals ages 1 to 93.  The average age of infected individuals is 39, and these men and women were equally affected.

Although no further infections have been reported, any cases that occurred after Feb. 10 have yet to be reported due to the time it takes for an individual to report their illness after falling ill.  On average, this takes 2 to 3 weeks.

Investigators from the FDA and State of Rhode Island are using a detailed DNA analysis of the Salmonella bacteria fully identify illnesses that may be related to this outbreak.

So far, there has been one case in the D.C. area and one in Maryland.  Further information on this outbreak can be found on the FDA website.

So next time you sit down for a piece of pizza, eyeing those yummy red pepper flakes, think twice before sprinkling this “deadly” condiment on your pizza.

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