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Is That Salami Safe? Charcuterie Recalls and Consumer Safety Tips

Photo of a charcuterie board.

By Donna Campisano, specialist, Communications, APHL

Charcuterie is having a moment. Boards and trays loaded with cheeses, cured meats, nuts, olives, spreads, chocolates and pretty much anything your heart desires are everywhere—on restaurant menus, in grocery store deli cases and on kitchen islands from Tempe to Tampa and places in between.

But that board could be brimming with more than chevre and capicola.

In January, Fratelli Beretta, USA recalled ready-to-eat charcuterie meat products due to concerns they may be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall was initiated after the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials, investigated a multistate outbreak of Salmonella. According to CDC, 87 people in 30 states have been affected, although the number is likely higher as many people recover without seeking medical treatment.

Further investigation determined that under-processed Coppa meats, which are made from cured pork, are the likely source of the infection. The products in question include Busseto brand Charcuterie Sampler and Fratelli Beretta brand Antipasto Gran Beretta (you can find the complete list of recalled products here). Consumers should not eat, and retailers should not sell, these items.

Infection with Salmonella, which can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever, is just one of several dangers lurking on charcuterie boards. Another big one is Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that survives refrigeration and other food preservation techniques and can be found in deli meats and some cheeses. A Listeria infection can cause gastrointestinal issues, and, in severe cases, headaches, stiff neck and even convulsions. It is particularly dangerous to pregnant women, young children and the elderly.

So, can you have your charcuterie and eat it (safely) too? No food is 100% risk-free, but there are steps you can take to increase the chances your Coppa (and other charcuterie items) are copacetic.

  • Start with clean hands and utensils when preparing your charcuterie board.
  • Choose your cheeses carefully. Make sure they are made using pasteurized milk (pasteurization kills harmful bacteria). Unpasteurized cheeses are sometimes sold at places like farmer’s markets so be sure to check the labels.
  • Check expiration dates. Many cured meats have a long shelf life. Make sure what you’re serving hasn’t passed its prime.
  • Keep your charcuterie items refrigerated right up until serving (you can even assemble your board and pop it into the fridge until needed).
  • Replenish your board as items are eaten instead of piling it high with meats/cheeses that are allowed to sit unrefrigerated.
  • Discard all perishable foods that sit out longer than two hours.

APHL supports the public health laboratories that perform testing to identify the pathogens that cause foodborne diseases by training staff, improving the capabilities of member laboratories and collaborating with federal partners, such as CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Working through the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR), APHL maintains a strong role in enhancing communication and collaboration across the disciplines involved in investigating foodborne illness outbreaks.

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