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Italian sausage products recalled in 37 states due to salmonella outbreak; 6 illnesses reported in L.A.

January 26, 2010 |  1:30 pm

Consumers are being alerted by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials to inspect refrigerators and and freezers for Italian sausage products that have triggered a salmonella outbreak across 37 states.

As of Monday, 187 cases of salmonella had been reported nationwide, including six in Los Angeles in which one resident was hospitalized.

The ready-to-eat products produced by Rhode Island-based Daniele International Inc. are distributed nationwide under dozens of labels, not all of them bearing the “Daniele” name. About 1.24 million pounds of the tainted products were recalled after public health officials notified food chains, said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health.

“We worked hard with retailers to make sure these products were off the shelves, but certainly, there were people who bought sausage beforehand,” Fielding said. “We ask that if you have bought Italian sausage recently, as a precautionary measure, check our list of tainted products and if it conforms, dispose it or return it to the store for a refund.”

Salmonella is a common bacterial food-borne illness that could be life-threatening to the very young, the elderly and those with weak immune systems. Initial symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever within 12 to 72 hours after consumption.

The source of the outbreak remains under investigation, but a sample of the Daniele products tested positive for salmonella. Daniele International voluntarily recalled all of its products containing black pepper, which the producer believes might be the source of contamination.

“My guess is the number of people affected is understated since many don’t go to the hospital,” Fielding said. “They may just think it’s a bug going around.”

--  Esmeralda Bermudez