WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Health officials in Sacramento, Calif., suspect three cases of E. coli-O157:H7 food contamination tied to salami are part of an outbreak seen in the Seattle area and thought to have originated in a Hayward, Calif.-based supplier.
and Oregon. Meanwhile, the meat processor and federal and state health and agriculture experts continued to search for the source of the E. coli contamination. This is the first cured meat ever thought to be a carrier of the potentially deadly bacteria. Dry salami is rendered ready-to-eat after being cured for 30 days in a process that heats and then acidifies the meat by adding a variety of chemicals such as nitrate to retard spoilage. E. coli, until now found largely in ground meat, is killed by high temperatures.
The salami recall was prompted by reports in the Seattle area of several illnesses tied to presliced meat sold under the Columbus brand at Bellevue, Wash.-based Quality Food Centers supermarket delicatessens. So far, of the 19 reported cases of E. coli illness last month in the Seattle area, 12 cases were confirmed to be caused by either eating the salami or by coming into contact with people who were sick from eating the product.
Of the three cases in Sacramento, two were being investigated as linked to eating Columbus salami, while the third is thought to be salami-related, said a state health department spokeswoman.