FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Poona Linked to Cucumbers

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration), CDC (Center for Disease Prevention and Control), and state and local officials are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Poona linked to “slicer” cucumbers, supplied by Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce and grown in Baja, Mexico. This type of cucumber can also be called “American” cucumbers.

According to the CDC, as of September 3, 2015, 285 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 27 states. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alaska (8), Arizona (60), Arkansas (6), California (51), Colorado (14), Idaho (8), Illinois (5), Kansas (1), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (12), Missouri (7), Montana (11), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (15), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (5), Oregon (3), South Carolina (6), Texas (9), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (9), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3). Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to August 26, 2015.  One death has been reported from California, and 53 people have reported being hospitalized.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about foods eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness began. Fifty-eight (73%) of 80 people interviewed reported eating cucumbers. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 55% reported eating cucumbers in the month of July in the week before they were interviewed.

Federal and state authorities identified clusters of people made ill in separate geographic areas and worked to trace the distribution of the food they ate back to a common supplier. The results of the traceback investigation indicate that Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce, of San Diego, Calif., was a common supplier of cucumbers that were eaten by the people in these illness clusters.

Several state health and agriculture departments are collecting leftover cucumbers from restaurants and grocery stores where ill people reported eating or shopping to test for the presence of Salmonella. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency isolated Salmonella from cucumbers collected during a visit to the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility. Results of additional product testing will be reported once available.

On September 3, 2015, FDA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) briefed the management of Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce on the status of the investigation thus far. Andrew and Williamson has issued a recall of all cucumbers sold under its Limited Edition® label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015.

Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce reports that the Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah and reached customers through retail, food service companies, wholesalers, and brokers. Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce lists many companies they supply to on their website.

The company further reports that these cucumbers are shipped in a black, green, yellow, and craft colored carton which reads “Limited Edition Pole Grown Cucumbers.” This variety is often referred to as a “Slicer” or “American” cucumber. It has a dark green color. It typically has a length of 7 to 10 inches and a diameter of 1.75 to 2.5 inches. In retail it is typically is sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping. In food service it is typically served as part of a salad.

The investigation is ongoing, and FDA will continue to provide updates and advice when new information is available.  For more info read here.

(Source: FDA Website)

Thank God it’s Friday! Quick news from the food world (Week 44)

Here is my article’s selection of the week:

CHINA

– Top Food Safety Shanghai Tips, by Paul O’Brien, on healthandsafetyinshanghai.com: tips on Chinese food safety from an expatriate consultant.

EU

– Lithuania bans energy drink sales to under 18s, by Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+ , on beveragedaily.com: Lithuania has banned energy drink sales to under 18s – making the Baltic state the first European country to do so.

– Highly pathogenic avian influenza reported in Germany, by Georgi Gyton+, on globalmeatnews.com: an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza strain H5N8 has been discovered in Germany, with more than 30,000 birds reportedly susceptible to the disease.

– Three simultaneous, food-borne, multi-country outbreaks of hepatitis A virus infection reported in EPIS-FWD in 2013: what does it mean for the European Union?by C.M. Gossner – E. Severi, on Eurosurveillance: the aim of this work is to put these recent outbreaks into an EU perspective and highlight opportunities for improving detection and investigation of future multinational HAV outbreaks.

UK

– FSA and supermarkets in fresh clash over campylobacter ‘naming and shaming’, by Julia Glotz, on The Grocer: the Food Standards Agency has slammed retailers for putting renewed pressure on it not to ‘name and shame’ them in its campylobacter survey on supermarket chicken.

US

– U.S. Passes First Soda Tax, by Jennifer Grebow, on Nutritional Outlook: sugary drinks like soda will now cost you more—that is, if you live in Berkeley, CA. Voters there approved a measure that will add 12 cents to the cost of a can of soda and 68 cents to the cost of a 2-L bottle, according to CNN, and Berkeley Puts First Soda Tax on the Books, by Gretchen Goetz, on foodsafetynews.com.

– FDA Finds Gluten in Presumably Gluten-Free Products, by Robby Gardner, on Nutritional Outlook: it appears that celiacs have good reason to be wary of processed foods that are not specifically labeled gluten-free. In an FDA study on over 400 market-sold foods, researchers found that even when products were presumably gluten-free—that is, their ingredient lists did not include wheat, rye, and barley—many of them were, in fact, contaminated with gluten.

– Recalled Bean Sprouts Linked to 2 Listeria Deaths, 3 Hospitalizations, on foodsafetynews.com: two people have died and three others have been hospitalized after eating Listeria-contaminated bean sprouts produced by Wholesome Soy Products of Chicago, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.