Coarse ground pepper, and Costco, is again at the center of a salmonella recall. On June 6, 2014, Olde Thompson Inc., a California company, issued a recall of its Kirkland Signature Coarse Ground Malabar Pepper, distributed to consumers in12.7 ounce plastic bottles. In conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has jurisdiction over spices sold in the U.S., Olde Thompson Inc. is recalling all of the Kirkland Signature Coarse Ground Malabar Pepper it has sold with a best by date of March 2017, bearing the Lot #: OT 065099, OT 065169, OT 065254, OT 065255, OT 065256, and OT 065284 – the recall is believed to target at least 5,153 cases of the Kirkland Signature Coarse Ground Malabar Pepper, and may grow to include other products as the investigation continues. The product has a UPC code of 096619164998. The product has been in Costco stores since April 4 of this year, and some of it is believed to already be in consumers’ homes.
This is not the first recall of pepper due to the fears of salmonella, with a recent outbreak of salmonella linked to Union International Pepper in recent years sickening at least 79 people. And in fact, a recent FDA investigation uncovered that about 7% of all imported spices, including pepper, have been found to contain salmonella. And it is not the first to affect the major food supplier Costco, which has been at the heart of a number of recent recalls of products, including product linked to a massive outbreak of Hepatitis A – Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant berries that Costco distributed in at least 25 states.
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Unfortunately, the product that has already been sold to consumers at Costco has a lengthy shelf-life, meaning the contaminated product could potentially affect many people in the years to come. According to reports, Costco has initiated a recall program that includes automated calls to its members known to have purchased the product, but any of the product which is not returned could pose a public health risk well into 2017, when the products Best By date is reached. And unfortunately, since many consumers use pepper on product after it is cooked, there remains a chance that it could infect the foods these consumers eat.
The salmonella lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates, who have taken the lead in recent salmonella outbreaks linked to pepper, as well as the major Hepatitis A outbreak linked to Costco, are currently monitoring the recall for reports of illness.